May 12, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The fifth-seeded Notre Dame (26-3) men’s tennis team took every punch No. 38 Wisconsin (16-11) had to offer, but the Irish were just too strong in the end and advanced into the 2007 NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament Round of 16 with a 4-0 victory Saturday afternoon at the Courtney Tennis Center. Notre Dame will face the winner of 12th-seeded USC or defending national champion Pepperdine on Thursday, May 17 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
Senior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, NY) continued his near flawless play at No. 1 singles with a 6-3, 6-4 straight-set victory over Moritz Baumann. Bass, who improves to 35-9 overall and 24-3 in dual matches, has won eight straight matches, six of which in straight sets, and 18 of his last 19 overall. He also moved into a tie with Michael Sprouse (1995) for seventh on the single-season victory chart.
Junior Andrew Roth (Omaha, NE) pushed the Notre Dame advantage to 3-0 following his hard-fought, straight-set victory over Michael Dierberger at No. 6. Roth survived a first-set tiebreaker, 7-6 (2), before taking the match 6-4. He improves to 26-11 overall and 18-6 in dual action. Roth, who extended his winning streak to a career-best eight matches, has ripped off 12 victories over his last 13 matches.
Sophomore Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, KS) clinched the match for Notre Dame at No. 3 singles with another nip-and-tuck contest. Helgeson slipped past Nolan Polley, 7-5, 6-4. He improves to 30-7 overall and 22-4 in dual action. The match-clinching victory was Helgeson’s fourth of the season.
Junior Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, NE) split the first two sets at No. 2 singles, but led in the deciding set, 4-0, when the match was halted. Senior Barry King (Dublin, Ireland) also split his first two sets at No. 4, while senior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, IN) had a set in hand at No. 5.
The Irish captured the all-important doubles point, but it was not without a serious challenge. Wisconsin took the initial match from Notre Dame at No. 2 doubles. The Badger tandem of Dierberger and Polley knocked off Helgeson and Parbhu, 8-6. The Irish duo drops to 3-2 on the season and 2-2 in dual matches.
Notre Dame responded and took the ensuing two matches to secure the 1-0 lead. King and Roth held off Michael Muskievicz and Sonkin, 8-6, at No. 2. With the victory, King and Roth remain unbeaten since an Irish shift in the doubles lineup. They now stand 9-0 overall and 8-0 in dual matches.
Bass and Keckley, also unbeaten since the switch, upended Baumann and Luchezar Kasarov by a score of 8-5 at No. 1. The 28th-ranked of Bass and Keckley is now 8-0 overall and 8-0 in dual action.
Notre Dame has won the doubles point in all eight matches since the change back on April 10 at Ball State. Prior to the shakeup, the Irish had earned the doubles point on just four occasions in their previous eight matches.
The 26 victories for Notre Dame are the most in a single-season since the Irish set the school record with a 27-9 mark in 1980-81. Notre Dame improves its all-time record in NCAA Tournament action to 16-15 and 7-4 in South Bend.
The Irish will make their seventh all-time appearance in the round of 16, including each of the last two seasons. Notre Dame had not recorded back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances since 1992-93 and 1992-94.
— ND —