April 29, 2005
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Senior co-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) was tabbed the Most Outstanding Tournament Performer, headlining a large contingent of Irish players when the BIG EAST Conference announced its men’s tennis awards on Thursday. In addition to Bob Bayliss being named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the fifth time, Notre Dame – which won its second league title in as many years last weekend – had three singles players and two doubles teams tabbed to the all-tournament team.
Bayliss and Mickey Cook of Rutgers were co-winners of the conference’s top coaching award. The Irish mentor earned the honor for the second year in a row and fifth time in the last eight seasons. Bayliss – who now has 12 conference coach-of-the-year honors to his credit (5 BIG EAST, 4 Midwestern Collegiate, 3 Mid-Atlantic) – led the Irish to back-to-back BIG EAST championships for the first time after peaking at 16th in mid-March in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings. Notre Dame has now won eight consecutive matches in the BIG EAST tournament, with its last defeat coming in 2001.
D’Amico joined three-time All-American Ryan Sachire (1999 and 2000) as the only Notre Dame players to be tabbed the BIG EAST’s Most Outstanding Tournament Performer since the Irish became members 10 years ago. It is just the second time that Notre Dame has won the team title and boasted the top performer. D’Amico provided the clinching win in the title match, defeating Gordi Milchutsky 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2 singles to ice the 4-0 victory against Rutgers. With that, the senior became the first-ever Irish player to go through an entire four-year career without seeing his team lose a match in the BIG EAST Championship. Notre Dame won championships in 2002, ’04, and ’05, and reached the final in ’03 only to see it rained out with no winner declared. D’Amico was on pace for a victory in the semifinals, as well, as he held a 6-4, 4-3 lead against Aurelio DiZazzo of St. John’s when the Irish clinched a 4-1 win against the Red Storm. He also was named to the all-tournament team in both singles and doubles, along with junior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.). That duo won at No. 1 in the semis, as it held a 5-1 lead against DiZazzo and Louis Desmerteaux when the SJU team retired due to an injury to Desmerteaux. The Irish squad was on serve (down 4-5) in the final against Milchutsky and Tyler Deming when Notre Dame clinched the doubles point. D’Amico was a BIG EAST all-tournament honoree in doubles in 2003, as well.
Sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) joined D’Amico in gaining all-tournament accolades in both singles and doubles. The Irishman was the only Notre Dame player to win singles matches in both the semifinals and final. King, who was the only student-athlete in the conference in the national rankings (114th in singles), beat Boris Chiporukha of St. John’s 6-2, 6-2 and then Rutgers’ Matthew Fawcett 6-1, 6-0, both at No. 3. He improved to 26-9 this season, and he shares the team lead with 19 singles victories (in 25 matches) in dual-match action. In doubles, King and sophomore Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) were 8-2 winners in the title match against Fawcett and Jonathan Wanano at No. 2. They held a 6-4 advantage against Morgan Bauer and David Nylen in the semis when the Irish clinched the doubles point. King and Keckley are 5-1 since first pairing together last month.
Sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) also earned a spot on the all-tournament team in singles for the second straight year. After staging a dramatic last-second comeback to clinch Notre Dame’s 2004 championship, he played No. 1 singles for the Irish this season, becoming the first ND sophomore since 1998 to do so. He was leading Deming 6-3, 2-2 in the final when D’Amico clinched the Notre Dame championship.
This was just the third year that the BIG EAST Conference named an all-tournament team. In both of the last two seasons, the Irish have taken up half of the six spots in singles, as well as two of three in doubles.
The other singles honorees were Deming, Nylen, and Boston College’s Soma Kesthely. In doubles, Deming and Milchutsky were all-tournament performers.
Notre Dame will next take part in the NCAA Championship, which begins May 13-15 at campus sites. The full 64-team field will be announced on Wednesday, May 4, at approximately 4:45 p.m. (EDT) on ESPNews.