May 7, 2004
For the fourth time in the last seven years, Notre Dame mentor Bob Bayliss was named the BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year on Friday, while his players led all squads in selections to the all-tournament teams, taking up half of the six spots on the singles team and one of three in doubles. Senior tri-captains Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) both earned all-BIG EAST Championship honors in both singles and doubles, while freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School), who clinched Notre Dame’s fourth BIG EAST title with a come-from-behind three-set victory, was tabbed in singles. The awards were determined by voting of conference head coaches, who were prohibited from voting for their own players or themselves.
It was the 11th time in Bayliss’ career he was named his conference’s top coach. He previously earned the BIG EAST honor in 1998, ’99, and 2002. Bayliss’ most recent team stands 15-8 and ranked 30th in the nation, having won eight of its last 11 matches, culminating with victories against Miami (4-1) and Virginia Tech (4-2), two teams that beat the Irish during the regular season, to win the BIG EAST title. The ’04 squad, ranked 24 spots above the final ranking of last year’s team, comes on the heels of Bayliss’ only losing season in 35 years of collegiate head coaching. The Irish earned a berth in the NCAA Championship this season, their 13th in the last 14 years. Bayliss is one of just four coaches in Division I to have led his current team to 13 NCAA tournaments over the last 14 seasons.
Bayliss is in his 17th year at Notre Dame with a 309-148 (.676) record, while his career mark stands at 591-242 (.709). He ranks fifth among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories and has had just one losing season in his career. Bayliss’ Irish have finished in the top 20 nine times in the past 14 years, advancing to the NCAA round of 16 on five occasions, highlighted by a quarterfinal appearance in 1993 and a national runner-up finish in ’92. Bayliss, named national coach of the year in 1980 and ’92, is a four-time midwest region coach of the year. In his time at Notre Dame, Bayliss’ teams have won 11 conference titles, while his players have earned All-America honors 17 times, won eight national ITA awards, and earned 15 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 11 to the NCAA doubles tournament.
This is just the second year the BIG EAST has named an all-tournament team, and Scott stands as the only player to earn all-tournament accolades in both singles and doubles both years, while he and Haddock are the only players to be double honorees in ’04. Scott stands 19-13 on the season with three victories over ranked players. He did not finish either of his singles contests in the BIG EAST tournament. In the semifinals, he rallied from a 5-2 deficit to win the first set in a tiebreaker against Colin Purcell of Miami. The Hurricane was up 4-1 in the second set when the match was abandoned due to Notre Dame clinching the team victory. In the final, Scott won the first set 6-4 against Soren Spanner, but the Hokie took the second 7-5 and was up 5-2 in the third when Notre Dame’s team championship was clinched.
Haddock was a singles honoree for the second consecutive season. He has won eight of his last 10 to improve to 20-11 on the season, which includes four wins over ranked opponents. Haddock has a 12-6 record in dual matches at No. 1 singles. He clinched Notre Dame’s semifinal win against Miami by rallying from losing the first set for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory against Josh Cohen, another all-tournament honoree in singles, at No. 1. Haddock then fell 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 to #41 Andreas Laulund, the BIG EAST Most Outstanding Tournament Player, in the title match.
After being just three points away from losing, with Arvid Puranen up 5-4 and 15-love in the third set, Bass won 12 consecutive points to rally for a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory at No. 3 singles to hand the Irish a 4-2 triumph over Virginia Tech in the league final. Bass has won five of his last six and stands 22-7 on the season, including 16-5 in dual matches at Nos. 3 and 4. He is 10-0 in three-set affairs, including 7-0 when the team match is still undecided. In the semifinals, Bass won the first set 6-3 against John Hoyes of Miami before losing the second set by the same score. The Irish rookie was up 3-0 in the decisive frame when the match was abandoned.
Joining the Irish trio, Laulund, and Cohen on the singles team was Louis Desmerteaux of St. John’s, which finished fourth in the BIG EAST tournament.
Haddock and Scott hold a 13-3 record this season, including 10-3 in dual matches. The seniors are 18-5 in their careers as a team. Both of their matches in the BIG EAST tournament ended the same way, with Haddock and Scott trailing 7-6 but refusing to succumb to defeat when Notre Dame clinched the doubles point. Their opponents were the other two all-tournament doubles teams: Purcell and Eric Hechtman of Miami and Spanner and Stephane Rod of Virginia Tech.
Notre Dame has reached all nine title matches of the BIG EAST Championship since joining the league in 1995-96, winning titles in 1996, ’99, 2002, and ’04, while the ’03 final was rained out with no winner declared.
Haddock, Scott, and Bass will lead Notre Dame in the NCAA Championship with first- and second-round action slated for May 14-16 in Cambridge, Mass. at Harvard University. Exact dates and times have not yet been announced, but the Irish will meet #19 Tulane in the first round.