May 23, 2006
STANFORD, Calif. – Notre Dame junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) was the winner of the Rafael Osuna Award, a national honor presented by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) to a player who displays sportsmanship, character, excellent academics, and has had outstanding tennis accomplishments, it was announced Monday evening at Stanford University. Bass is the first Irish player ever to win the Osuna Award.
After copping several sportsmanship awards during his time playing junior USTA tournaments, Bass has won a pair this season. He received the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic Sportsmanship Award after helping the Irish reach the title match of the prestigious event in March.
On the court, he has had a breakthrough season, heading into this week’s NCAA Singles Championship with a 27-11 record, including 14-10 in dual action (13-8 at No. 1). He is ranked 21st in the nation in singles after peaking at a career-high listing of eighth on Jan. 10. That made him just the third ND player ever to crack the top 10 in the ITA national singles rankings. He had an outstanding fall season, beginning with 13 consecutive victories (eight over ranked players), becoming the first Irish player since 1993 to win the singles crown in the ITA Midwest Championships and then matching the top result in program history by reaching the quarterfinals of the season’s second grand slam, the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
Bass stands 73-32 in singles in his career, including 44-25 in dual action. He has 19 career wins over nationally-ranked opponents. He was voted the team MVP in 2003-04 and was named to the BIG EAST Conference all-tournament team in 2004 and ’05.
Notre Dame has now had at least one winner of six of the eight national awards presented by the ITA. Most-recently, Javier Taborga was the ITA National Senior Player of the Year and current Alabama head coach Billy Pate was the ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year, both in 2002.
All that remain in the 2005-06 season are the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships. Bass will get underway on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. (PT) against sixth-seeded Conor Niland from California, while sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) will face eighth-ranked Scott Doerner from NCAA champion Pepperdine, one of the Nos. 9-16 seeds, at 4 p.m. Notre Dame senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) will match up against one of the Nos. 5-8 seeds, the seventh-ranked duo of Rylan Rizza and Nick Meythaler of Virginia in the opening round of the NCAA doubles tournament on Thursday. Keckley posted a 9-7 win over that duo in dual action last season, while Langenkamp topped Meythaler – though both had different partners – by an 8-3 score in this spring’s dual match.