Men's Tennis

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#20 Irish Fall 4-2 To VCU in BIue-Gray Final
Junior Ryan Keckley provided one of Notre Dame's points against VCU.
 
Junior Ryan Keckley provided one of Notre Dame's points against VCU.

March 19, 2006

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The second-seeded and 20th-ranked University of Notre Dame men's tennis team (13-5) lost 4-2 to the No. 3 seed, #26 Virginia Commonwealth (15-4), in the championship match of the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic Sunday afternoon at the Lagoon Park Tennis Center. The Irish saw their 11-match winning streak ended in their sixth trip to the tournament's final, while the Rams became just the second school to win three Blue-Gray titles, after claiming back-to-back championships in 2003 and '04. Junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) became the first ND player since 1994 to win the tournament's Sportsmanship Award.

Due to a forecast of rain in the Montgomery area, the singles matches were played first, with doubles to be contested only if the score were tied following those. Though ND jumped out to a 2-1 lead, the Rams would end up winning a trio of two-setters to take a 3-2 advantage with only a three-set affair remaining. VCU's Francesc Lleal then finished a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 upset of 89th-ranked Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) at No. 3 to hand the Rams the victory and make the doubles portion unnecessary.

The Irish rookie battled back from dropping the opening set against the Spaniard - who has also seen time at Nos. 1 and 2 this spring - but could not come through in the final set. It was just the second three-set defeat for Helgeson as a collegian. Lleal has won five of his last six matches.

First off the court was Damien Lacombe from France, who topped Irish senior captain Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) 6-1, 6-3 at No. 6. It was the first appearance for Buchanan in the singles lineup since Feb. 18, while Lacombe improved to 13-3 on the season.

 

 

Notre Dame junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph's H.S.) continued to be Notre Dame's most-reliable singles player this spring, as he tied the score at 1-1 with a 6-4, 6-4 upset of 125th-ranked Georges-Alexandre Israel at No. 4. Keckley has now won three in a row against nationally-ranked players and stands 18-3 on the season, including 16-2 in dual matches. Israel had been 14-2 on the season prior to the match.

The Irish took a 2-1 lead when sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.), ranked 33rd in the nation, beat Petr Olsak from the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) at No. 2. Parbhu is now 23-6 on the season, including 12-4 in dual play.

VCU would win the final three matches, with Sergi Arumi of Spain evening the score at 2-2 with a 6-4, 6-0 upset of 106th-ranked Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) at No. 5. The No. 1 position featured a battle of players ranked among the top 20 in the nation, as 19th-ranked Arnaud Lecloerec of France prevailed 6-4, 7-5 over 13th-ranked Bass. Bass, who came through in the decisive match to give Notre Dame victories in both the quarterfinals and semifinals, now stands 0-2 in singles against VCU in his career in the Blue-Gray National Classic, while holding a 7-0 record against all other schools in the Blue-Gray. He is the third Notre Dame player to win the Sportsmanship Award, following Will Forsyth (1993) and Andy Zurcher (1994).

It was just the third all-time meeting between the Irish and Rams, with each coming in the Blue-Gray Classic. VCU also beat Notre Dame en route to the 2004 title, posting a 4-0 win in the quarterfinals, while the Irish prevailed 4-3 in the 1997 quarters.

Notre Dame now holds a 34-20 all-time record in the Blue-Gray, having played in the event in each of the last 16 years. The Irish reached the title match in 1993, '97, '98, 2001, '02, and '06, winning titles in '93 and '01. VCU joined USC (champs in 1987, '88, '91) as the only schools to have three Blue-Gray titles.

ND was defeated for the first time since Feb. 7, a 7-0 loss at #3 Illinois. The 11-match winning streak had been the longest for the Irish since 1990 and the second-longest of the 19-year tenure of head coach Bob Bayliss.

The Irish will return to action next weekend, heading south again for a pair of tough road matches. Notre Dame will play at #4 Texas on Saturday at 1 p.m. (CST) and #19 Texas A&M on Sunday at the same time.

#26 VCU 4, #20 Notre Dame 2
Singles
No. 1:	#19 Arnaud Lecloerec (VCU) def. #13 Stephen Bass (ND) 6-4, 7-5
No. 2:	#33 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) def. Petr Olsak (VCU) 6-4, 7-6 (7-2)
No. 3:	Francesc Lleal (VCU) def. #89 Brett Helgeson (ND) 6-4, 1-6, 6-2
No. 4:	Ryan Keckley (ND) def. #125 Georges-Alexandre Israel (VCU) 6-4, 6-4
No. 5:	Sergi Arumi (VCU) def. #106 Barry King (ND) 6-4, 6-0
No. 6:	Damien Lacombe (VCU) def. Patrick Buchanan (ND) 6-1, 6-3
Order of Finish: 6, 4, 2, 5, 1, 3*
Doubles(not played)
No. 1:	Keckley/Parbhu (ND) vs. #45 Lecloerec/Olsak (VCU)
No. 2:	Eric Langenkamp/Roth (ND) vs. Arumi/Lleal (VCU)
No. 3:	Bass/King (ND) vs. Emil Lindgren/Sebastian Ripoli (VCU)
* - indicates clinching victory


Event Calendar

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September 22
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
September 23
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
September 24
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
September 25
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
September 26
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
September 27
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
September 28
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
September 29
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
September 30
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
October 1
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
October 1
All Day
ITA All-American Championships Pre-Qualifying
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael Case Tennis Center)
October 2
All Day
ITA All-American Championships Pre-Qualifying
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael Case Tennis Center)
October 2
All Day
ITF Futures
Fountain Valley, Calif.
October 3
All Day
ITA All-American Championships Qualifying
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael Case Tennis Center)
October 4
All Day
ITA All-American Championships Qualifying
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael Case Tennis Center)
October 6
All Day
ITA All-American Championships
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael Case Tennis Center)
October 7
All Day
ITA All-American Championships
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael Case Tennis Center)
October 7
All Day
Bobby Bayliss Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
October 8
All Day
ITA All-American Championships
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael Case Tennis Center)
October 8
All Day
Bobby Bayliss Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
October 9
All Day
Bobby Bayliss Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
October 9
All Day
ITA All-American Championships
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael Case Tennis Center)
October 10
All Day
ITA All-American Championships
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael Case Tennis Center)
October 20
All Day
ITA Midwest Regional Championships
Columbus, Ohio (Varsity Tennis Center)
October 21
All Day
ITA Midwest Regional Championships
Columbus, Ohio (Varsity Tennis Center)
October 22
All Day
ITA Midwest Regional Championships
Columbus, Ohio (Varsity Tennis Center)
October 23
All Day
ITA Midwest Regional Championships
Columbus, Ohio (Varsity Tennis Center)
October 24
All Day
ITA Midwest Regional Championships
Columbus, Ohio (Varsity Tennis Center)
October 28
All Day
ITF Futures
Birmingham, Ala.
October 29
All Day
ITF Futures
Birmingham, Ala.
October 30
All Day
ITF Futures
Birmingham, Ala.
October 31
All Day
ITF Futures
Birmingham, Ala.
November 1
All Day
ITF Futures
Birmingham, Ala.
November 2
All Day
ITF Futures
Birmingham, Ala.
November 3
All Day
ITF Futures
Birmingham, Ala.
November 3
All Day
USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships
Flushing, N.Y. (Billie Jean King National Tennis Center)
November 4
All Day
Cleveland State Invitational
Cleveland, Ohio (Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion)
November 4
All Day
Gopher Invitational
Minneapolis, Minn. (Baseline Tennis Center)
November 4
All Day
USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships
Flushing, N.Y. (Billie Jean King National Tennis Center)
November 5
All Day
Cleveland State Invitational
Cleveland, Ohio (Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion)
November 5
All Day
Gopher Invitational
Minneapolis, Minn. (Baseline Tennis Center)
November 5
All Day
USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships
Flushing, N.Y. (Billie Jean King National Tennis Center)
November 6
All Day
USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships
Flushing, N.Y. (Billie Jean King National Tennis Center)
November 6
All Day
Gopher Invitational
Minneapolis, Minn. (Baseline Tennis Center)
November 6
All Day
Cleveland State Invitational
Cleveland, Ohio (Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion)
January 20
3:30 PM
Ball State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
January 22
12:00 PM
Kentucky
Lexington, Ky. (Boone Tennis Center)
January 27
1:30 PM
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C. (Cone-Kenfield Tennis Complex)
January 28
3:00 PM
TBA
Chapel Hill, N.C. (Cone-Kenfield Tennis Complex)
February 4
10:00 AM
Monmouth N.J.
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
February 4
3:00 PM
William & Mary
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
February 11
12:00 PM
Boston College
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
February 12
12:00 PM
Illinois
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
February 12
5:00 PM
Detroit
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
February 19
12:00 PM
Indiana
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
February 24
6:00 PM
Northwestern
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
March 3
6:00 PM
Ohio State
Columbus, Ohio (Varsity Tennis Center)
March 11
12:00 PM
Louisville
Louisville, Ky. (Bass-Rudd Tennis Center)
March 18
2:00 PM
Virginia
Notre Dame, Ind. (Courtney Tennis Center)
March 24
3:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va. (Burrows-Burrleson Tennis Center)
March 31
3:30 PM
North Carolina State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Courtney Tennis Center)
April 2
12:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame, Ind. (Courtney Tennis Center)
April 7
3:00 PM
Florida State
Tallahassee, Fla. (Speicher Tennis Center)
April 9
12:00 PM
Miami
Coral Gables, Fla. (Neil Schiff Tennis Center)
April 14
3:00 PM
Duke
Durham, N.C. (Ambler Tennis Center)
April 16
12:00 PM
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C. (Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center)
April 21
3:30 PM
Clemson
Notre Dame, Ind. (Courtney Tennis Center)
April 23
12:00 PM
Wake Forest
Notre Dame, Ind. (Courtney Tennis Center)
April 26
TBA
ACC Championships
TBD
April 27
TBA
ACC Championships
TBD
April 28
TBA
ACC Championships
TBD
April 29
TBA
ACC Championships
TBD
April 30
TBA
ACC Championships
TBD
May 12
All Day
NCAA Championships
TBD

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