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Men’s Tennis: three Irish athletes to compete at ITA national meet

Deirdre Krasula | Saturday, February 3, 2007

Hard work at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships paid off for the Irish, who today send three members of the squad – seniors Stephen Bass and Ryan Keckley and junior Sheeva Parbhu – to the four-day ITA National Indoor Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

Doubles partners Parbhu and Keckley earned a spot in the tournament with their 9-8(5) victory over Louisville’s Damar Johnson and Slavko Radman in the ITA Midwest Doubles Championship final Oct. 24. The pair faces San Diego State’s fourth-seeded Markus Dickhardt and Christian Groh.

Dickhardt and Groh advanced to the semifinals of the Polo Ralph Lauren All American Tennis Championships with an 8-5 quarterfinals win over Tennessee’s Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel. Dickhardt and Groh were forced to withdraw from their semifinal match against Georgia’s Luis Flores and John Isner after Groh pulled a stomach muscle in a consolation singles match earlier that day.

Flores and Isner are currently the No. 1 doubles team in the nation, and Parbhu and Keckley will likely see them if they advance far enough.

Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said the high level of competition does not faze the duo.

“Everybody is good and every match is going to be tough,” Bayliss said. “We are just going to take it one match at a time.”

Parbhu will take on Old Dominion’s Harel Srugo, the ITA Mideast Singles Champion. Srugo captured the title by defeating teammate Henrique Cancado 7-5, 6-2.

Parbhu earned his spot at the National Indoors when he advanced to the Midwest Singles Final, where he fell to Ohio State’s Steven Moneke 7-6(2), 6-2.

Bayliss said that Parbhu has been working on developing an even stronger game since losing to Moneke.

“[Parbhu] has been working on getting a better rhythm to his game and developing more consistency,” Bayliss said.

Bass reached the tournament as an at-large selection – he was selected based on ranking and fall performance – and will play against Florida’s Greg Ouellette. Ouellette garnered the ITA Southeast Championship title after his competitor, Georgia’s Travis Helgeson, withdrew from the match.

The rest of the Irish squad will head down to William and Mary Friday for the Crowne Plaza Tribe Invitational. In addition to its host, Notre Dame will also compete against Maryland and North Carolina State. The Tribe will play without its top doubles team of Colin O’Brien and Alex Cojanu, as the duo will be competing in the ITA National Indoor Championship along with Parbhu and Keckley.

The Irish will have to play without top-five singles player sophomore Brett Helgeson, who sustained an ankle injury last week.

While Bayliss acknowledged the challenge in losing Helgeson, he said the team still looks forward to the opportunity to play.

Senior Barry King will lead the Irish in the eight-player round robin tournament. Senior Irackli Akhvlediani follows King at the No. 2 singles spot for Notre Dame.

Bayliss said he is excited to see how the team performs when younger players have a chance to see more of the court than usual.

“This is an opportunity for everyone to play up in an opportunity they wouldn’t normally see,” Bayliss said. “I want to see how some of the guys play in roles they’ve never had the opportunity to assume.”