Jan. 9, 2008
Notre Dame, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame men's tennis team was ranked No. 12 in the first Collegiate Tennis Rankings of the 2008 season, announced the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) on Tuesday. In addition to a No. 12 team ranking, junior Brett Helgeson was #11 in the singles poll.
"I am not a big believer in rankings that are not backed up by results, so while it is rewarding to see us ranked relatively high in the preseason it really means very little," said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss. "A great amount of our preseason ranking was based on last year's performance. We graduated three of our six starters, but that being said our returning players and current crop of freshmen are capable of doing some great things for us this season."
Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan.), whose previous best national ranking was 60th, registered an impressive fall season with 13 victories in his 14 matches. He opened the year with 12 consecutive wins, including a triumph over Steven Moneke of Ohio State -- the nation's second-ranked player. Helgeson reached the semifinals of the ITA Midwest Championship and upended two nationally ranked foes along the way.
"Brett's ranking is a result of an outstanding fall, highlighted by the victory over Steven Moneke (the nation's second-ranked player)," said Bayliss. "He was extremely consistent and I am excited to see his game grow as opposed to protecting what he has gained to this point."
He owns a career singles mark of 54-18 overall and 39-14 in dual matches. Helgeson is tied for fourth in team single-season doubles-point clinching wins (5, Barry King) and is tied for seventh all-time in team doubles-point clinching wins (5, Barry King). He was named to the BIG EAST Conference all-tournament team in both singles and doubles in 2007. He finished last season with a 31-7 overall record, including 23-4 in dual matches. His 23 dual-match victories ranked second-best on the team and 31 overall wins were third best. Helgeson went 19-4 at No. 3 singles and 4-0 at No. 4 singles a year ago.
It is the 17th consecutive season that Notre Dame was listed in the preseason ITA rankings and highest for the Irish since opening the 2002 campaign at No. 7. It is also the 13th time in the last 17 seasons that Notre Dame will begin a season in the national top 30.
In all, 13 of Notre Dame's 17 regular-season opponents - not including the teams the Irish will face in the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic or the ITA National Team Indoors, which each traditionally provide several ranked tests for Notre Dame - were listed in the preseason rankings, with six ranking in the top 25: No. 1 Virginia (which Notre Dame plays on Jan. 27 in South Bend), No. 3 Ohio State (March 28, Eck Tennis Pavilion), No. 8 Illinois (March 1, Champaign, Ill.), No. 16 Duke (Feb. 3, Durham, N.C.), No. 18 Florida State (Apr. 26, Tallahassee, Fla.) and No. 21 Michigan (Apr. 12, Ann Arbor, Mich.).
The Irish are third among teams from the ITA's Midwest Region, behind the Buckeyes and Illini.
Notre Dame will open their dual-match season on Jan. 20 against Penn State inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion. First-serve is scheduled for noon.
Men's Team Rankings Administered by the ITA 1. Virginia (27) 2. Georgia (10) 3. Ohio State 4. Baylor 5. Mississippi 6. Southern California 7. Texas at Austin 8. Illinois 9. UCLA 10. North Carolina 11. Oklahoma State 12. Notre Dame 13. Alabama 14. Florida 15. Wake Forest 16. Duke 17. Pepperdine 18. Florida State 19. Louisiana State 20. North Carolina State 21. Michigan 22. Boise State 23. Tulsa 24. Tennessee 25. Texas A&M-- ND --