Men's Tennis

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The X-Factor (Brett Helgeson Feature)
Notre Dame junior Brett Helgeson is 22-5 this season and ranked 32nd in the nation, helping the Irish to a 9-4 record and a No. 12 national ranking.
 
Notre Dame junior Brett Helgeson is 22-5 this season and ranked 32nd in the nation, helping the Irish to a 9-4 record and a No. 12 national ranking.

March 5, 2008

By Maura K. Sullivan, Sports Information Student Assistant

Notre Dame junior tennis player Brett Helgeson came to the University because of what he called "the x-factor," a unique combination of academics, athletics, tradition, and spirituality that make Notre Dame such a special place. As one half of a dynamic duo of tennis-playing brothers from Kansas, Helgeson had many options when choosing a college.

"I visited Texas [where older brother Travis played his freshman season] and it was a big thing for me to go there and play with my brother," he says. "But I chose to come here and do my own thing."

Helgeson praised the overall education at Notre Dame. A finance major in the Mendoza College of Business, he names Introduction to Accounting professor Ed Hums and Introduction to Finance professor Carl Ackerman as two of his major influences and his favorite professors at the University. Just like the x-factor that lured him to Notre Dame, Helgeson may possess the x-factor for success on the tennis court.

Growing up, Helgeson played both soccer and tennis. He ended up choosing tennis, in part because he was better at it and in part because of the influence and guidance of his father, Kent, who played tennis at the University of Minnesota. The Helgeson brothers are only a year apart in age, so competition was a natural and integral part of their childhood.

"We played on the same soccer team, played tennis together, were together in school," Brett says. "We could never just sit and hang out; we were always outside doing something, playing against each other."

The brothers were so talented and competitive that they met in the Kansas state singles finals three years in a row. Keeping the rivalry on the court was a difficult balance, but Helgeson feels that he benefitted from competing with his brother.

"I felt like I played my best tennis against him because I knew him so well," he recalls. "We played together so much, I almost knew where the next ball was going. I never felt any pressure; it was harder for him because he was older and people expected more of him, like he had something to prove."

 

 

It also speaks to Helgeson's incredible talent that his only losses in high school were to his older brother. In his senior season, he won the state singles title, dropping only one game in the entire tournament. Brett and Travis also played doubles together in high school. After conquering Kansas tennis, it was on to bigger and better courts for Helgeson.

Upon arriving at Notre Dame, Helgeson made an immediate impact on the court as both a singles and doubles player. As a freshman, he defeated the sixth-ranked player in the nation, Virginia's Treat Huey, by scores of 6-7, 6-1, 6-1. Helgeson was also named to the BIG EAST Conference All-Tournament Team in singles. However, his clear strength is in his backhand and a strong work ethic that has enabled him to improve his transition skills and net play. This improvement showed in his sophomore season, when he was named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team in both singles and doubles and finished the season ranked No. 109.

His junior season has been stellar so far, with a 22-5 record and No. 32 national ranking. Helgeson also boasts a career singles record of 61-19 and could be in line to be named an All-American. However, Helgeson is a team player in this individual sport.

"My goal is just to stay focused on the NCAAs and how important the end of the season is," he notes. "As a team, we want to be playing our best tennis at the end of the season. If we can do that, we will have the year we want to have."

Helgeson also credits his success and improvement to his coaches at Notre Dame -- head coach Bob Bayliss and assistant coach Ryan Sachire -- and the great atmosphere on the team, praising the friendships he has created here.

"I came to Notre Dame not knowing anyone, and I had 15 brothers right away," he says.

The other influence in Helgeson's life is having a standout season of his own at Georgia, as Travis currently is ranked No. 5 in the nation for the Bulldogs.

It is clear that brotherly influence has played a factor in Helgeson's success and career, and this influence will continue in the future. Once his career at Notre Dame is over, Helgeson and his brother plan to travel on the pro circuit together.

"The travel is expensive and it will be good to do it with someone, to support each other," Brett says.

Through the years, comparison to current superstars Bob and Mike Bryan must have been inevitable for these brothers, but each is a success in his own right and will go on to a bright future in tennis.

With the brotherly support of his Fighting Irish teammates, the friendly rivalry with older brother Travis, and his own strong work ethic and positive attitude, Brett Helgeson may have a winning combination. The spirit of Notre Dame has been called tough to define, yet impossible to ignore; the x-factor to which Helgeson was referring. On the tennis court, Helgeson's winning combination may be tough for opponents to defeat, but as the Irish head into the NCAA tournament, it will be impossible to overlook.

-- ND --

Event Calendar

Delta

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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