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Men’s Tennis: Team to host NCAA tourney

Jay Wade | Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Notre Dame will look to continue its success after capturing the Big East championship title April 22 as the Irish head into the NCAA Tournament beginning May 11.

The No. 4 Irish have worked hard all season and will take their 24-3 record with them into the NCAA Tournament.

That record means Notre Dame will play host to the first two rounds of the tournament, which the Irish won an automatic bid to by sweeping Villanova, St. John’s and Louisville, 4-0 en route to their Big East title. The Irish will take on Butler (14-9) in the first round.

Notre Dame will need to keep a sharp focus after the team was showered with individual awards at the end of the Big East season. Irish coach Bobby Bayliss won the Big East coach of the year for the sixth time since coaching the Irish, and senior Stephen Bass won the conference’s most outstanding player award. In addition to the accolades, Irish players Brett Helgeson, Barry King and Sheeva Parbhu all were named to the Big East tournament all-singles team. In doubles, Sheeva Parbhu and Brett Helgeson, along with Ryan Keckley and Barry King, were honored by the Big East for their outstanding seasons.

Notre Dame is sporting one of its best records in past memory at 24-3 – the best mark for the team since the 1989-90 season. The team only needs three more wins to get to the 27-win plateau to tie the school record for victories in a season. That mark was set by the 1980-81 team.

But all of the awards and honors do not mean much when the Irish start play in the NCAA Tournament.

Butler, which does not boast the same record as the Irish, is still a team to be taken seriously.

“You just try to win every match and see how it goes,” Bayliss said.

The Bulldogs have won eight straight matches and are playing in the tournament for the sixth straight season. On top of that, Butler was the champion of the Horizon League this season. Butler’s No. 1 player, James Low, was named the Horizon League athlete of the year.

Despite Butler’s strengths, the Irish are confident their preparation and hard work throughout the season will help them in the tournament.

“I think we are prepared, we’ve change our doubles combinations … and we think our doubles are good, but we’ll see this weekend,” Bayliss said. “You don’t take anybody lightly in the NCAA Tournament, so we’ll be ready.”