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Men’s Tennis: Team wants to rein in Cavaliers

Deirdre Krasula | Sunday, February 11, 2007

Notre Dame is hoping 13 isn’t all that unlucky.

The Irish head to Virginia today for the season opener, ranked No. 13 by the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings. Notre Dame comes back to campus Sunday for an afternoon rendezvous with Indiana.

The team is led by two strong individual singles players – senior Stephen Bass and junior Sheeva Parbhu are currently ranked No. 14 and No. 30 in singles, respectively.

Adding to his rankings is Parbhu’s No. 11 spot in doubles with partner senior Ryan Keckley.

But the team is less concerned with its preseason rankings than it is focused on their upcoming performances.

“We don’t worry too much about numbers and rankings, particularly right now,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “The number you want to have that is high is at the end of the year.”

Entering the spring season ranked is nothing new for the Irish – it is the 16th straight season that Notre Dame will start the preseason in the Fila rankings and the 12th time in the last 16 years that it does so in the top 30.

The No. 13 ranking is the highest since 2002 when the Irish started the season at No. 7.

No. 29 Louisville joins Notre Dame as the other Big East team ranked in the top 30.

The team’s top singles player, Bass last faced Virginia’s Somdev Devvarman (No. 8 nationally) last January when the Irish took on the Cavaliers. Bass almost defeated Devvarman but fell 6-3, 5-6, 6-4. Virginia took the meet 4-3 for the win.

Devvarman is a familiar opponent for the Irish – Parbhu faced him in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Champion-ship in May. Devvarman ended Parbhu’s streak in the tournament with a 6-1, 6-3 win.

Bayliss and the Irish hope to walk away from Virginia this year with a win.

The team is well rounded in both singles and doubles play and feels it is well matched to take on the Cavaliers.

“I am pretty confident that it will be a very close match,” Bayliss said. “We also want to play our best at doubles and see if we can get the doubles to win.”

The team will rely on the duo of Parbhu and Keckley to challenge No. 7 Devvarman and Treat Huey.

Bayliss expects big performances from his top two singles as well. Bass will have to adjust his game to the slower courts the team will face in Charlottesville.

Bayliss hopes that Bass will be able to start the team on a successful path for the match.

“We hope to start from [Stephen’s match] and go straight on down [to win],” Bayliss said.

The team plans on performing well no matter the ranking of its opponent.

“I expect we will be in every match and win the majority of them,” Bayliss said.

Indiana is currently undefeated and ranked No. 58 in the ITA poll.

The meeting between the Irish and the Hoosiers will be Indiana’s first road match of the season.