May 3, 2007
Indianapolis, Ind. -
Notre Dame senior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, NY) was the lone representative from the Notre Dame men's tennis team to earn an invitation to the NCAA Division I Men's Singles Championship. Junior Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, NE), who reached the quarterfinals of the event last year, was listed as an alternate for singles, while Parbhu and senior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, IN) were alternates for the doubles competition. The tournaments run from May 23-28 at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
Bass, who enters the postseason ranked eighth nationally, was awarded the No. 8 seed after earning the automatic qualification from the BIG EAST Conference. This year marks the second season that the NCAA used a qualification process to mirror that of the team event, meaning that the top singles player and top doubles team (providing they are nationally-ranked) in each of the 31 conferences earned automatic bids, with the remainder being filled by at-large selections. Bass was the only BIG EAST qualifier in singles.
Bass has registered a career-high in singles victories this season with a 33-9 overall record and a 15-8 mark against nationally-ranked players, including a straight-set victory over the nation's current No. 1 player John Isner of Georgia. He is 22-3 in dual matches, with all but two of those contests coming at No. 1. Bass has won six consecutive matches and finished the season with a 9-0 mark at home. He has won 24 straight matches at home. Bass is 11-3 outdoors in 2006-07 and 38-13 in his career. He also reached the semifinals of the ITA National Indoors for the second consecutive season, to match Notre Dame's best-ever singles result.
Spending the better part of the entire season ranked among the top 10, Bass is just the third Irish player to enter the top 10 since the current rankings were adopted. Among his biggest wins of the season, beyond his triumph over current No. 1-ranked Isner, were victories over then-#5 Arnau Brugues of Tulsa, then-#6 Kevin Anderson of Illinois, then-#15 Luke Schields of Boise State, then-#16 Greg Ouellette of Florida and then-#17 Michal Kota of Baylor.
Bass is simply one of the top players in Notre Dame tennis history. He ranks sixth all-time in school history with 106 career singles victories. Bass also recently moved into the top 10 in career dual match wins (68). His 33 victories this season rank ninth best in single-season Irish history. Bass has also posted a remarkable 34 career wins over ranked opponents.
Fifteen of his matches this season (36%) came against players that earned NCAA berths, and Bass held a 7-8 record against that group, with victories against Isner, Anderson, Brugues, Shields, Kokta, Ouellette and Jason Pinskey of Penn.
The Irish have earned 20 invites to the singles event since they adopted their current formats in 1977. All of those but two singles berths have come since 1990.
Bass will try to build on Parbhu's run in last season's tournament. Parbhu was named an All-American after reaching the NCAA quarterfinals. Prior to Parbhu, Notre Dame players in the NCAA Individual Championships had gone 0-7 in the tournament since 1998. The previous four Irish qualifiers in singles had bowed out in the opening round.
The 64-player singles championship will begin May 23 with opening-round play and will continue with one round per day. A full list of all qualifiers can be found on www.ncaasports.com. The Tennis Channel will provide coverage of the singles finals.
Notre Dame, ranked fifth and seeded No. 5, first will be in action in the NCAA Team Championship, which gets underway on May 12. The Irish will play host to early-round action at the Courtney Tennis Center, playing Butler at 11:00 a.m. (ET) in the opening round.
-- ND --