March 21, 2006
Following a 4-1 week that included a trip to the title match of the prestigious Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic, the University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team moved up five spots to 15th in the latest Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) on Tuesday. It is the highest ranking for the Irish since finishing the 2001-02 season at 14th.
The Irish began the season at 26th in the ITA listing – which was determined by coaches’ voting until switching to a computer formula two weeks ago – and slid down to a season-low 31st after a 2-4 start. Notre Dame then rattled off 11 consecutive victories – its longest winning streak since 1990 – including an upset of then-#11 Ohio State (now ranked seventh) at home and a victory at then-#30 Florida State (now ranked 24th) last week. The Irish then won three matches in the Blue-Gray Classic, including victories against Fresno State (now ranked 41st) and Boise State (now ranked 23rd), before losing to Virginia Commonwealth (now ranked 17th) in the title match.
Notre Dame was ranked in the top 10 during most of the 2001-02 season, but ended up 23-7 and a season-low 14th after losing in the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament. That campaign saw the Irish ascend on two occasions to #4 in the rankings (March 13 and 24), which stands as Notre Dame’s highest-ever midseason ITA national ranking. Notre Dame ended the 1991-92 season ranked third following a run to the NCAA title match.
This is the 11th season since 1990-91 in which Notre Dame has ascended into the national top 15. The Irish have been a constant presence in the national rankings during that time, with this week’s marking the 252nd consecutive set with Notre Dame included, dating back to March 2, 1990.
In all, 20 of Notre Dame’s 24 regular-season opponents are listed among the 75 teams in this week’s rankings, with 11 of them in the top 25: #3 Illinois (L, 7-0), #4 Duke (L, 4-3), #5 Texas (Saturday, away), #7 Ohio State (W, 5-2), #11 Virginia (L, 4-3), #12 North Carolina (L, 4-3), #17 VCU (L, 4-2), #18 Louisville (April 13, home), #22 Texas A&M (Sunday, away), #23 Boise State (W, 4-3), and #24 Florida State (W, 4-3). For the complete set of ITA rankings, see www.itatennis.com.
Four singles players and two Irish doubles teams were listed in the latest individual national rankings. Junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) leads the way at 14th in singles, with sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) at 34th, freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) 106th, and junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) at 115th with his first career singles ranking. In doubles, Keckley is ranked with two different partners, appearing at 37th with senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and 45th with junior Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College).