Senior Barry King.

#17 Irish Use Strong Singles Play For 5-2 Win Over SMU

April 8, 2006

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 17th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (14-7) used good singles play in tight situations to end its three-match losing streak with a 5-2 victory against #57 SMU (14-6) Saturday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. After falling behind 2-0, the Irish – who were without junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.), who was ill – posted straight-set wins at the top five spots in singles. Notre Dame will conclude the regular season on Thursday by playing host to the only other BIG EAST Conference team in the national rankings, #27 Louisville, at 3:30 p.m. (ET) at the Courtney Tennis Center.

SMU – which does not have an American on its seven-player roster – rallied from a 5-2 deficit and eventually won a tiebreaker in the decisive match to take the doubles point. The Mustangs then got a two-set win at No. 6 singles, but could not take a set in any of the other matches, despite 10 of the 12 sets at those spots seeing both players win at least four games. In fact, five of the sets went to tiebreakers, all of which were won by the Irish.

Notre Dame junior Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) got Notre Dame on the board by finally converting on his fourth match point for a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) win against Henrik Soderberg of Sweden at No. 4 singles. The Irishman was playing up a spot from his normal position due to the absence of Keckley, who normally plays No. 4 singles and No. 1 doubles for Notre Dame. King ended a three-match losing streak and stands 12-8 on the season.

Senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) battled early and then took control of his match to even the team score at 2-2 with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-0 victory against David Kuczer of Poland at No. 5. The Irish veteran moved to 12-9 on the season, including 8-4 in dual-match play. He has won six straight matches indoors.

Junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School), ranked 16th in the nation in singles, earned a 6-4, 6-4 win over 33rd-ranked Peter Oredsson of Sweden at No. 1 to put Notre Dame ahead 3-2. The Irish junior ended a three-match losing streak, earned his fifth win of the season against top-50 players, and now stands 25-9 overall, including 12-8 in dual matches at No. 1. He has won 14 consecutive home matches and eight straight indoors.

The clinching win was provided by freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) for the third time this spring. He beat Federico Murgier of Argentina 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 at No. 3. The ND rookie is now 19-9 on the season, including 12-8 in dual play. He remained a perfect 12-0 at home as a collegian.

Sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.), ranked 31st, put the finishing touch on the victory with a hard-fought 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-5) triumph against Alex Skrypko of Belarus at No. 2 in the final match on the court. He has won four consecutive matches and leads the team in singles wins with a 26-6 mark, including 15-4 in dual matches. He is unbeaten at home this season and has won 13 in a row there, dating back to his rookie campaign. Parbhu continued to be nearly unbeatable in tiebreakers, improving to 11-1 on the season and 15-3 in his career. In the opening-set `breaker, he trailed 6-3 and saved four set points before prevailing.

Notre Dame appeared to be on its way to winning the doubles point for the first time since St. Patrick’s Day, but a late rally by Murgier and Soderberg spoiled those plans. That SMU squad was down 5-2 against Bass and freshman Santiago Montoya (Scottsdale, Ariz./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]) – playing together for just the second time – at No. 3, but they would win three straight games to get back into the match. The Irish team had opportunities to stop the comeback at 5-4, but they could not convert their break point chances. Both teams served well from there on out, as neither side would see another break-point opportunity. The Mustangs led 3-2 in the tiebreaker and then used a Murgier drop-volley winner, an Irish error, and a Soderberg backhand crosscourt winner to take control. A big Murgier serve allowed Soderberg to hit a volley winner off the return on match point to hand SMU a 9-8 (7-3) victory and a 1-0 lead in the match.

The Irish did end a three-match losing streak at No. 1 doubles, as Langenkamp and King earned their first career victory as a team (in three opportunities). That duo beat Kuczer and Skrypko by an 8-4 score, which improved the senior’s team-leading doubles mark to 14-10 this season, including 11-8 in dual play.

Helgeson and Parbhu were ahead 3-2 at No. 2 against Oredsson and Olvind Alver from Norway, but the SMU squad won six of the next seven games for an 8-4 triumph that put the fate of the point in the hands of the No. 3 players.

Notre Dame started the spring by winning the doubles point in seven of the first 10 matches, but has since lost it in seven of its last nine opportunities to drop to 9-10 on the season in doubles points. The Irish have lost four in a row since winning the point against Fresno State on March 17.

Alver provided SMU’s lone win in singles, beating Irish senior team captain Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) 6-4, 6-2 to put the Mustangs ahead 2-0.

Notre Dame now leads the all-time series with SMU by a 4-3 count, while the home team remains unbeaten (6-0) in the series.

The Irish have won nine consecutive matches at home and eight straight indoors.

#17 Notre Dame 5, #57 SMU 2SinglesNo. 1:  #16 Stephen Bass (ND) def. #33 Peter Oredsson (SMU) 6-4, 6-4No. 2:  #31 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) def. Alex Skrypko (SMU) 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-5)No. 3:  * Brett Helgeson (ND) def. Federico Murgier (SMU) 7-6 (7-1), 6-4No. 4:  Barry King (ND) def. Henrik Soderberg (SMU) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)No. 5:  Eric Langenkamp (ND) def. David Kuczer (SMU) 7-6 (7-3), 6-0No. 6:  Olvind Alver (SMU) def. Patrick Buchanan (ND) 6-4, 6-2Order of Finish: 6, 4, 5, 1, 3*, 2DoublesNo. 1:  King/Langenkamp (ND) def. Kuczer/Skrypko (SMU) 8-4No. 2:  Alver/Oredsson (SMU) def. Helgeson/Parbhu (ND) 8-4No. 3:  * Murgier/Soderberg (SMU) def. Bass/Santiago Montoya (ND) 9-8 (7-3)Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3** - indicates clinching victory