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Irish Roll into Ann Arbor

Deirdre Krasula | Thursday, September 28, 2006

The courts may be slick with the chance of rain, but Notre Dame heads to Ann Arbor today still enjoying the comforts of success.

The Irish had a strong showing last weekend at their own Tom Fallon Invitational, a four-team tournament that included Notre Dame, Ball State, Purdue and Western Michigan – and head coach Bob Bayliss hopes that success will carry over against the Wolverines, one of the top five teams in the Big Ten.

“Michigan has the potential to be one of the top teams in the nation, and we want to be right up there with them,” Bayliss said.

Last weekend, the first day of the tournament brought success from both ends for the Irish, who went 14-0 in singles and 2-1 in doubles play. Junior Sheeva Parbhu defeated Ball State’s Joe Epkey 7-5, 6-1 and Western Michigan’s Tim Bradshaw 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (11-9). Parbhu is ranked 20th in the nation and will travel to the ITA All-American Oct. 7. Notre Dame’s other top-20 player, senior Stephen Bass, sat out during the tournament so that he would not exceed his playing date quota for the ITA All-American tournament.

Sophomore Brett Helgeson defeated Western Michigan’s Brady Crosby (No. 94) 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (10-7). Doubles team Ryan Keckley and Sheeva Parbhu (No. 36) also triumphed over Western Michigan’s Tim Bradshaw and Brady Crosby 8-6.

The Irish again saw success in the second day of the tournament, finishing 8-1 in singles against Purdue and 3-0 in doubles against Western Michigan.

“We had good preparations,” Bayliss said. “Our guys are excited about the season; there’s been a great commitment on their part to excellence.”

The team travels to the Michigan Invitational with plans to even further improve its doubles game and its first hit from the baseline.

“It’s been pretty much business as usual,” Bayliss said. “We’ve been working on our doubles game and our first strike.”

But the team will have to play without Parbhu this weekend, Bayliss said, so that he – like Bass – will not be over his playing date limit for the ITA All-American tournament. Parbhu’s doubles partner Keckley will have to adjust and work with another Irish player.

Nothing is set for the Irish yet. Bayliss said the team will see how it plays its singles game and then adjust its doubles team accordingly.

“I want our doubles to stand up to any test we may face,” Bayliss said. “Then we can be one of the best teams out there.”

The Irish will take on Michigan, Vanderbilt, Boise State and Western Michigan at the Michigan Invitational.