Nov. 25, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame men’s tennis coach Bob Bayliss has announced the signing of two incoming freshmen for the 2003-04 school year. Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y.) and Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind.) have signed national letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame next year and join the Irish tennis team in the fall. Both competitors are among the top 18 current prep players who will be entering college in the fall and each has posted an undefeated record in regular-season singles matches in high school.
“Both of these young men have demonstrated the competitive spirit to excel in the college ranks,” said Bayliss, who is in his 34th season as a college tennis head coach. “They will become great college players and team leaders and guarantee a rise in Notre Dame tennis fortunes. We have strengthened ourselves considerably with these two additions to our squad.”
Bass will join the Irish after graduating from Iona Preparatory School next spring. He is ranked 23rd in the United States Tennis Association Boys’ 18-and-under rankings and is 10th among American players who will enter college in the fall. He earned a seed in last summer’s USTA Boys’ 18s National Hard Court Championships and also competed in the boys’ singles and doubles draw in the 2002 U.S. Open. Bass, whose brother Jimmy Bass (Bronxville, N.Y.) is a sophomore on the Irish tennis team, will enter Notre Dame carrying an International Tennis Federation world junior ranking.
“Stephen has a dominant two-handed backhand that he can hit with power to all corners of the court,” said Bayliss. “He was known nationally as one of the country’s top competitors. Stephen has demonstrated the ability to win close matches and he will continue to improve this summer and in college.”
Keckley, a student at St. Joseph’s High School in South Bend, completed a perfect 18-0 senior season by capturing the Indiana state singles title last month. He become the first South Bend native to claim the state crown since 1993. He is 46th in the USTA Boys’ 18s rankings and is 18th among current high school seniors in the U.S. Keckley, like Bass, advanced to the round of 32 in the USTA Boys’ 18s National Hard Court Championships last summer.
“Ryan plays up in the court, possesses a great backhand and has plenty of upside in his game,” said Bayliss. ” I believe he will become one of the country’s top juniors this summer.”
Bayliss said there is a prospect of additional signings for the class of 2007, but NCAA regulations do not allow him to make any further comment on them at this time.
The Irish, who were 23-7 a year ago and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years, will begin their spring season Jan. 16-19 at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Las Vegas before opening the dual-match slate on Jan. 24 against Indiana at 4:00 p.m.