March 26, 2006
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The 15th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (13-7) lost 5-1 at #22 Texas A&M (11-5) Sunday at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The Irish were without freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) – who normally plays No. 3 singles – but the match still came down to a quartet of three-set contests in singles. The Aggies won three of those and the final one was not finished. Notre Dame will be idle until April 8, when it welcomes Southern Methodist for a home match at 1 p.m. (EDT). It will be the first home tilt for the Irish since Feb. 24.
Texas A&M posted dominating victories at the top two spots to win the doubles point, and the Aggies appeared to be on their way to an easy victory when they took the first sets in five of the six singles matches. But the Irish would fight back, winning five of the second sets, leaving the match up to three-set affairs at Nos. 1, 3, 4, and 5 with A&M holding a 2-1 advantage. The Aggies won 6-3 in the third at Nos. 1, 4, and 5, while the No. 3 match was abandoned – due to Notre Dame travel plans – at 3-3 in the final set.
For the second day in a row, sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.), ranked 34th, provided the lone victory for the Irish. He beat Bryan Wooten 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) at No. 2 singles to improve to 25-6 and take over the team lead in singles victories this season. Parbhu is 14-4 in dual action and stands 9-1 in outdoor singles matches. He is also now 9-1 in tiebreakers in 2005-06.
Irish junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.), ranked 115th in the nation, was in the midst of a battle at No. 3 singles with Mohammed Dakki of France. The Aggie won the opening set 7-5, but Keckley came back for a 6-3 win in the second, and the players were in a 3-3 deadlock in the decisive frame when it was abandoned.
Texas A&M lost just six total games in doubles, but was denied the opportunity to finish off the sweep, due to Notre Dame’s travel plans. The Irish dropped the doubles point for the sixth time in their last eight chances.
Done first in doubles was the 74th-ranked team of Matt Bain and Jerry Makowski, which beat senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and sophomore Andrew Roth (Houston, Texas/Tenney School) by an 8-1 score at No. 2. Wooten and Brett Joelson, ranked 64th, won 8-1 over Keckley and Parbhu at No. 1 to clinch the doubles point. At No. 3, Marcus Lunt and Conor Pollock held a 7-4 advantage against juniors Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) and Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) at No. 3 when that match was abandoned.
Joelson was A&M’s lone straight-set winner in singles, beating Roth 6-2, 6-2 at No. 6 to put the Aggies up 2-0. John Nallon put Texas A&M up 3-1 by beating King 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 at No. 4. The clinching win came from Pollock at No. 5, who defeated Langenkamp 6-0, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3. The top spot saw a battle of two of the top players in college tennis, with eighth-ranked Makowski finally winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 against 13th-ranked Bass. The Aggies improved to 12-1 at No. 1 singles this season.
Notre Dame has lost three in a row for the second time this season. The third-set struggles for the Irish in the state of Texas this weekend were a reversal, as ND players had combined to win more than 70% of their three-set contests (33-14 record) this season prior to this weekend. But the Irish dropped the only three-setter in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to #5 Texas and then went winless on Sunday against the Aggies.
Texas A&M has now won three straight against Notre Dame and leads the all-time series by a 3-1 count. This was the first match between the squads in College Station.
#22 Texas A&M 5, #15 Notre Dame 1SinglesNo. 1: #8 Jerry Makowski (A&M) def. #13 Stephen Bass (ND) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3No. 2: #33 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) def. Bryan Wooten (A&M) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)No. 3: #115 Ryan Keckley (ND) vs. Mohamed Dakki (A&M) 5-7, 6-3, 3-3, abandonedNo. 4: John Nallon (A&M) def. Barry King (ND) 6-2, 1-6, 6-3No. 5: Conor Pollock (A&M) def. Eric Langenkamp (ND) 6-0, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3No. 6: Brett Joelson (A&M) def. Andrew Roth (ND) 6-2, 6-2Order of Finish: 6, 2, 4, 5*, 1DoublesNo. 1: #64 Joelson/Wooten (A&M) def. Keckley/Parbhu (ND) 8-1No. 2: #74 Matt Bain/Makowski (A&M) def. Langenkamp/Roth (ND) 8-1No. 3: Marcus Lunt/Pollock (A&M) led Bass/King (ND) 7-4, abandonedOrder of Finish: 2, 1** - indicates clinching victory