April 28, 2006
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Notre Dame freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) and the doubles team of senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) were named to the BIG EAST Conference Men’s Tennis All-Tournament Teams, released on Thursday. The Irish have now had honorees in both singles and doubles in all four years since the debut of the awards, voted on by the conference’s 10 men’s tennis head coaches.
Helgeson was the lone rookie to earn all-tournament honors in singles or doubles this season. He provided Notre Dame’s lone point in a 4-1 defeat against Louisville in the title match of the event, beating Jamaican Damar Johnson 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 at No. 3 singles. That came just 10 days after Johnson had registered a straight-set (7-5, 6-3) victory over Helgeson in the regular-season finale. The Irish freshman also was up 6-1, 5-2 on South Florida’s Juan Barragan in the semifinals when the Bull retired due to injury and had a 6-2, 3-0 advantage against Ted Tywang of Georgetown in the quarters when his contest was abandoned. Helgeson is one of four Irish players to post 20+ singles victories this season, standing 21-10 overall, as well as 14-9 in dual-match action (mostly at No. 3). He has been particularly effective against foes from the Midwest Region (13-4 record) and in three-set affairs (5-2). One of just four Irish freshmen ever to spend time in the ITA national singles rankings, he peaked at 60th on Feb. 22. He joins current junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) as the only Irish rookies ever to be tabbed to the BIG EAST all-tournament teams.
Langenkamp (left) and Keckley have been ranked as high as 12th in the nation this season. (photo by Greg Owen)
Keckley and Langenkamp both were named to the all-tournament team in doubles for the second straight season, though they did not pair together in 2005. The duo clinched the doubles point in the opening round against Georgetown with a 9-7 victory at No. 1 against Eric Conrad and Kevin Walsh. They were leading the USF team of Dillon Brozyna and Marc Jaeger by a 6-4 score in the semis when that match was abandoned, and then the Louisville squad of Jeremy Clark and Jakob Gustafsson notched an 8-4 win against the ND team in the final. Though they are the only two current Notre Dame players to have notched 50+ career wins in doubles, Keckley and Langenkamp played together for just nine matches this season, going 5-4 (2-2 dual at No. 1). Due in large part to a pair of big fall victories, they have been ranked as high as 12th in the nation and are currently listed 35th.
Rex Ecarma was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for helping Louisville win the conference championship in its first season in the league, while the Cardinals’ top player – Slavko Radman – was the Most Outstanding Tournament Performer. Joining Helgeson and Radman on the all-tournament team in singles were Gustafsson (the only unanimous selection), Federico Barton from USF, and the St. John’s duo of Louis Desmarteaux and David Nylen. In doubles, Gustafsson and Clark were recognized, as well as the U of L squad of Johnson and Jhonny Berrido.
Notre Dame, ranked 19th in the nation with a 17-8 record, figures to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division I Championship, which will see the first two rounds played on campus sites from May 12-14 and the final four rounds contested at Stanford University from May 20-23. The NCAA selection show will take place on Wednesday, May 3, at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPNews (DirecTV channel 207, Dish Network channel 142). Fans can also hear the audio feed of ESPNews on XM Radio and SIRIUS Radio.