June 9, 2006
Notre Dame sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) has been named a singles All-American by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). The first Irish player to be so honored since 2001-02, he finished with a 33-8 record and was 28th in the final ITA national singles rankings after being the first ND men’s player since 1959 to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championship.
The ITA All-America team consisted of all players who met at least one of three criteria in singles or doubles. In singles, an individual must 1) finish in the top 20 of the final ITA national singles rankings; 2) earn one of the 16 seeds in the NCAA Singles Championship; 3) advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA Singles Championship. To earn All-America mention in doubles, a player must 1) finish in top 10 of final ITA national doubles rankings; 2) earn one of the eight seeds in the NCAA Doubles Championship; 3) advance to the quarterfinals in the NCAA Doubles Championship.
Parbhu – who fulfilled the final requirement in singles – posted the most singles wins by an Irish player in a campaign since Ryan Sachire was 37-9 in 1998-99. He was 14-3 in tournament action and shared the team lead in singles victories in dual matches with a 19-5 record (39-8 career). Among the biggest of those victories was a three-set triumph against Ohio State’s Bryan Koniecko that handed a 5-2 defeat to the Buckeyes, their lone loss of the regular season. He posted an 11-4 record against nationally-ranked players, including 5-3 vs. higher-ranked foes. After not cracking the national rankings as a rookie, he started his sophomore season with 10 consecutive victories, was the runner-up in the ITA Midwest Championships (having his 17-match winning streak ended by a teammate in the final), and reached the round of 16 in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships to soar to a career high of 14th in the rankings on Jan. 10. He was listed among the top 35 all spring.
Parbhu – now 65-15 overall in his career – was particularly impressive in tight contests, going 9-3 in three-set affairs (14-5 career), 32-14 in close sets (6-4, 7-5, or 7-6), and 18-5 in close matches (28-7 career). He was virtually unbeatable in tiebreakers, going 11-2 in traditional ones (15-4 career) and winning his only match tiebreaker. He went 12-0 at home (25-3 career) and also excelled outdoors, finishing with a 16-3 mark (35-7 career). Parbhu was a perfect 26-0 when winning the opening set of a singles match and has now won 33 in a row in that situation, dating back to the 2004 Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic. He also won nearly half of the time when dropping the first frame, going 7-8 on the campaign.
The selection made Parbhu the 16th different Notre Dame player to be tabbed an All-American in the history of the program, the first since Javier Taborga (singles and doubles) and Casey Smith (doubles) in 2001-02. He is just the second Nebraska native ever to be an All-American for Notre Dame in any sport, coincidentally joining another men’s tennis player from Omaha – Bill Brown, who was a first-team selection (under the previous format) in 1967.
In the final ITA national rankings, Notre Dame had two singles players and a doubles team listed. Junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) was right behind Parbhu, at 29th, in singles. The Irish were one of only five teams – along with Georgia, Illinois, Pepperdine, and Stanford – that had multiple players among the top 30. Only ND and the Bulldogs will have a pair of top-30 players back in the fold next season. In doubles, senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) were 42nd.
Also released recently were the ITA’s final regional rankings, which saw Notre Dame – which went 19-9 and finished 17th nationally after reaching the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament – listed third in the Midwest Region, behind Ohio State and Illinois. It marks the 17th consecutive season that the Irish were among the five best teams in the region. In singles, Parbhu and Bass were second and third, respectively, and will be the top returning players in the region, as top-ranked Ryler DeHeart from Illinois graduates. Freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) came in 21st in singles, while Keckley and Langenkamp were seventh in doubles.