Aug. 20, 2006
The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team played the final exhibition match of its European tour on Friday at the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club. ND junior Brandon Pierpont uses his diary to tell of the events of that day, which included not just the match, but an incredible meal at the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club. Check back to und.com, as senior Irackli Akhvlediani will pen the final diary of the team’s trip, covering the last day in Dublin and the journey back to campus.
Men’s Tennis European Tour Diary #8 – August 18, Dublin, Ireland; Brandon Pierpont
Today was a very enjoyable day that started out as a lazy morning with nothing on the agenda. Most of the players took advantage of this opportunity by getting a little bit more shuteye. I walked to a shopping plaza near St. Stephen’s Green to buy an Irish soccer (known as football in Ireland) jersey, before returning to the hotel and joining in this camaraderie.
We all left the hotel at 1:00 p.m. for our scheduled match at the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club. All of the players were dressed pretty normally, but (sports information director) Bo Rottenborn busted out some extremely classy attire. He had on a spiffy blue sportscoat, as well as khaki pants with many little green tennis rackets scattered across them, surely a rare collector’s item that he picked up who knows where. After the 15-minute hike there, Barry King, a native of Dublin and a member of this particular club, escorted us to some indoor courts, where we had a warmup session. The indoor courts were made of rubber, so it felt as if we were hitting on top of a giant bouncy ball or something.
Our match didn’t start until 4:00 p.m., so the guys took some time to get acquainted with the club after the warmup. The outdoor courts were made of artificial grass, and gigantic hedges stood behind the fences on all of the courts, making for some of the most scenic tennis courts I have ever seen in my life.
Nearing match time, there was a brief warm-up and then the match. Despite many of the guys having never competed on a grass surface before, we ended up doing impressively well, winning nine matches and dropping just two. After the match all of the players, Irish and the Notre Dame team alike, went and showered in the impressive locker room at the facility. But one player seemed to be missing. Eric Langenkamp, Mr. Never-nude, struck again by deciding that he did not need a shower badly enough to strip in front of the others. When questioned about this peculiar behavior by team captain Stephen Bass, he simply stated “I’m good.”
The dinner consisted of numerous delectable courses, including an appetizer of fish, a bowl of vegetable soup, lamb, and a unique dessert. While most members of the team were quite relaxed in enjoying this meal, one was not. Stephen Bass had been nervous since the beginning of the meal, when Barry King mentioned to him that he would have to give a speech sometime during the meal. This may have been a mistake for Barry to tell him this, as Steve would not stop asking him how to pronounce the name of the captain of the Fitzwilliam LTC Team, Fiachra. Everyone already knew that Steve speaks quickly, since he is a native of New York, but during this particularly short and nervous speech, he went into ultra rapid-fire mode. Coach Bayliss also made a speech, but did not seem to struggle as much with the public speaking.
That night some of the guys decided to mingle with the locals. Ryan Keckley was among them, and given that he is a very social creature by nature, he integrated himself with the ladies. While doing so, he met an American girl from Ohio State and, right there in the land of the Irish, took a shining to a Buckeye! In an ironic twist of fate, he ended up chatting with this Buckeye for quite a while, as the two of them really hit it off.
The next morning, Barry King and I awoke sadly to find an empty bed next to us. The third musketeer of our room and only tennis team alumnus on the trip, Eric Langenkamp, was nowhere to be found and finally strolled into our room after having breakfast. Guesses have been made as to his prior whereabouts.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all of the alumni who have donated to the team and made this trip possible. It has truly been a fantastic experience for the team to share together, and everyone on the team is very grateful for it.