June 27, 2006
Notre Dame rising junior Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) has been named to the 2006 USTA Summer Collegiate Team, an elite training program for the top American collegiate tennis players designed to provide valuable exposure to the USTA Pro Circuit in a team-oriented environment. One of 12 players – six men and six women – on the squad, he is the second Irish men’s player to participate with the group, following three-year team member Ryan Sachire (1998-2000).
Parbhu finished his sophomore season with a 33-8 singles record and ranked 28th in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national singles rankings (ninth among Americans). He became the first Notre Dame men’s player since 1959 to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championship, whereby earning ITA All-America honors. Parbhu – now 65-15 overall in his career – posted the most singles wins by an Irish player in a campaign since 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.
The other men’s players selected to the team were rising seniors John Isner of Georgia (ranked second in final ITA singles rankings) and Todd Paul from Wake Forest (20th), as well as junior-to-be Travis Helgeson of Texas (seventh) – the older brother of Notre Dame’s Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) – and a pair of players who just completed their first collegiate seasons: Koniecko (27th) and ITA National Rookie of the Year Matt Bruch of Stanford (16th). Illinois assistant Kent Kinnear will serve as coach of the side. The top four American players from the season-ending Fila national singles rankings were eligible for automatic selections, while two spots were wild card selections by the USTA Player Development staff. Isner also was on the team a year ago.
The women’s team featured two-time NCAA singles champion and fourth-year team member Amber Liu of Stanford (12th in final ITA singles rankings), as well as her teammate – rising senior Anne Yelsey (15th in singles, first in doubles) – juniors-to-be Kristi Miller of Georgia Tech (second in singles), Lindsey Nelson from USC (ninth), and ITA National Player of the Year Audra Cohen of Miami (first in singles, second in doubles), plus Amanda Fink of USC (eighth), the ITA National Rookie of the Year. Georgia Tech’s Bryan Shelton will be the coach of the women’s squad.
Several notable players have participated in the USTA Summer Collegiate Team in the past, including former Harvard superstar James Blake – currently ranked #7 in the world in singles – and former Stanford NCAA doubles champions Mike and Bob Bryan, who have three professional grand-slam crowns to their credit and are currently the top-ranked doubles team in the world. In all, seven men currently ranked in the top 200 in the world in singles – Blake, Paul Goldstein (65th, Stanford), Justin Gimelstob (95th, UCLA), Bobby Reynolds (111th, Vanderbilt), Jeff Morrison (175th, Florida), Amer Delic (184th, Illinois), and Jesse Witten (194th, Kentucky) – are alums of the program. On the women’s side, two of the four highest-ranked Americans in the world – Jill Craybas (43rd, Florida) and Laura Granville (57th, Stanford) – are former participants, as is another player in the singles main draw of this week’s Championships Wimbledon, Lilia Osterloh (109th, Stanford).