Sept. 19, 2006
The Notre Dame men’s tennis team will face a daunting schedule in 2006-07 that consists of six teams that finished last season in the top 25 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings, including five that reached the round of 16 at the 2006 NCAA Championship.
The Irish begin their fall season this weekend with the 20th Annual Tom Fallon Invitational (Friday-Sunday at the Courtney Tennis Center), an annual rite of fall on campus. It continues the tradition of a Notre Dame fall tournament first established in 1970 by Fallon, the legendary 31-year Irish coach who won 514 matches and a national championship. It was renamed in his honor upon his retirement in 1987.
Notre Dame will also compete in the Michigan Invitational (Sept. 29-Oct. 1), ITA All-American Championship (Oct. 5-8), Midland Invitational (Oct. 13-15), Midwest Regional Championship (Oct. 19-24), National Indoor Singles & Doubles Championship (Nov. 2-5) and William & Mary Invitational (Nov. 2-5).
In addition to the six teams ranked in the top 25, the Irish will also face five more schools that ended last season among the top 75.
Notre Dame opens the spring season on the road at Virginia (Jan. 27) and William & Mary (Jan. 28). The Cavaliers, ranked No. 8 at the end of last season, captured their second consecutive ACC title and reached the NCAA quarterfinals before losing to eventual NCAA runner-up Georgia.
The Irish return home for three consecutive matches against Florida State (Feb. 2), Duke (Feb. 4) and Toledo (Feb. 4). The Seminoles were ACC runner-up, reached the second round of the NCAA Championship and closed the year ranked No. 19. The Blue Devils, ranked No. 6 in the final poll, advanced to the round of 16 at the NCAA Championship.
After a road trip to Wisconsin (Feb. 11), Notre Dame returns to South Bend for matches against Michigan (Feb. 23), Northwestern (Feb. 25) and Washington (Mar. 5). The Wolverines (finished No. 38) and Huskies (finished No. 18) each qualified for the NCAA Championships and Washington reached the round of 16.
The Irish will get away from dual action for the final time of the spring when they travel to the Blue Gray National Classic over the weekend of Mar. 15-18 in Montgomery, Ala.
Notre Dame then hits the road for matches against Purdue (Mar. 25), Michigan State (Mar. 28) and Ohio State (Mar. 30). Neither the Boilermakers nor Spartans reached the NCAA Championship, but the Buckeyes reached the quarterfinals and nearly knocked off Texas for a spot in the semifinals. Ohio State finished last year No. 5 in the country.
After home matches with Illinois (Apr. 1, finished No. 9) and Kentucky (Apr. 4, finished No. 34), the Irish close the spring season with three matches on the road at SMU (Apr. 7), Ball State (Apr. 10) and Louisville (Apr. 15). Notre Dame and the Mustangs (finished No. 39) are meeting for the seventh straight season. The trip will mark the third consecutive season that the Irish have traveled to the state of Texas.
In addition to the scheduled dual matches, the Irish hope to earn an invitation to the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championship (Feb. 16-19) in Chicago, Ill.
The BIG EAST Conference Championship is scheduled for April 20-22 in Tampa, Fla. The Irish have reached the final of that event in all 11 years since becoming a league member, winning five titles. Notre Dame won back-to-back championships in 2004 and 2005.
The 2006 NCAA Championship begins May 11-13 with first and second round action on 16 campus sites and concludes with the final four rounds of competition from May 17-28 in Athens, Ga. The NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will also run in the same location.
The Irish squad returns six of seven starters from last year’s team that finished 19-9 and ranked No. 17 after reaching the NCAA Championship round of 16.
— ND —