March 17, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 16th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (13-5) had chances, but could not convert them, losing 6-1 to #3 Illinois (11-1) on Thursday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame got its lone point from sophomore Irackli Akhvlediani (Vienna, Austria/Vienna International School), who won at No. 5. The Irish will return to action on Saturday, March 26, playing host to #48 Michigan at 1 p.m. (EST).
Illinois, whose only loss this season was a 4-3 decision against #1 Baylor, swept the doubles and then won all six of the first sets in singles. Notre Dame then won three second sets and lost 6-4 and 7-5 in two others. But the Fighting Illini held on for three straight-set victories to clinch the match and then won two of the three-set matches.
Akhvlediani was nearly off the court first – as a loser – but he fought off a pair of match points when Pramod Dabir – who was 68th in the preseason rankings and was playing No. 5 for the first time this spring after competing at Nos. 3 and 4 – served for the match, up a set and 5-4 in the second. But the native of the former Soviet republic of Georgia held strong, broke serve and forced a third set. He then prevailed in that, securing a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory. Akhvlediani has won four of his last five matches and now stands 23-10 on the season, including 11-5 in dual action. It was the second time in his career that he came back from a one-set deficit to prevail, and the sophomore is now 14-6 indoors this season.
Senior co-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]) nearly pulled off by far the biggest upset of his career, but he eventually lost a tight match at No. 2 with #4 Ryler Deheart 6-2, 5-7, 7-5. The Irish senior has not defeated a nationally-ranked opponent since Feb. 28, 2004, when he beat #50 Joey Atas of Ohio State. That also is the highest-ranked player ever to fall to D’Amico.
Junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) also appeared to be on his way to a victory, but he eventually lost 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 to Ruben Gonzales at No. 6.
Freshman Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) was on his way to prolonging the match, when he took a lead in the second set, but he saw another rookie, Monte Tucker, come back and end the match in straights, 6-2, 7-5, effectively ending any opportunity for the Irish to rally for victory.
GD Jones, who is ranked 33rd in the nation, clinched the win for Illinois – its fifth in a row against the Irish – by beating sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) 7-6 (7-0), 6-2 at No. 3.
First off the court was 18th-ranked Kevin Anderson, who beat sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1.
Brandon Davis and Chris Martin were done first in doubles, beating Bass and King 8-5 at No. 3. It was the fifth-ranked team in the nation, Deheart and Jones, that clinched the doubles point, beating D’Amico and sophomore Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) 8-2 at No. 1. Completing the sweep was the pair of Anderson and Dabir, who beat Parbhu and junior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) 8-5 at No. 2.
#3 Illinois 6, #16 Notre Dame 1
No. 1: #18 Kevin Anderson (I) def. Stephen Bass (ND) 6-1, 6-4
No. 2: #4 Ryler Deheart (I) def. Brent D’Amico (ND) 6-2, 5-7, 7-5
No. 3: #33 GD Jones (I) def. Barry King (ND) 7-6 (7-0), 6-2
No. 4: Monte Tucker (I) def. Sheeva Parbhu (ND) 6-2, 7-5
No. 5: Irackli Akhvlediani (ND) def. Pramod Dabir (I) 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
No. 6: Ruben Gonzales (I) def. Patrick Buchanan (ND) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
Order of Finish: 1, 4, 3*, 5, 2, 6
No. 1: #5 Deheart/Jones (I) def. D’Amico/Keckley (ND) 8-2
No. 2: Anderson/Dabir (I) def. Eric Langenkamp/Parbhu (ND) 8-5
No. 3: Brandon Davis/Chris Martin (I) def. S. Bass/King (ND) 8-5
Order of Finish: 3, 1*, 2