Oct. 6, 2005
TULSA, Okla. – Notre Dame senior tennis player Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) lost in the opening round of the main draw of the season’s first grand slam, the Polo Ralph Lauren ITA All-American Championships, on Thursday at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center, but he then rebounded – after being down a set and two service breaks – to upset the 15th-ranked player in the country in consolation action. He will continue in the backdraw on Friday at 9 a.m. (CDT), and live scoring is available via www.tulsahurricane.com.
“This was a good day for Eric,” said Irish assistant coach Todd Doebler, who accompanied him to the tournament. “He played a tough player in the morning and had some opportunities in the first set, but he didn’t capitalize on them and ended up losing a close match. After getting down in his second match, he began to play a little bigger and farther up in the court, and that allowed him to raise his level. Obviously this is a big step for Eric. It is a chance for him to realize that all of his hard work is paying off and that he is just beginning to see how much potential he has.”
In the first round of the 64-player main draw, Langenkamp – who is nationally-ranked for the first time, at 89th – fell 6-4, 6-4 against senior Rohan Gajjar of Arkansas, a native of India who is ranked 31st in the nation. Gajjar played Nos. 1 and 2 for the Razorbacks last spring, earning first-team all-Southeastern Conference honors and a bid to the NCAA Singles Championship. The Irish senior actually started quickly in the match, taking a 4-2 advantage in the opening set, but Gajjar’s big serving keyed his comeback victory.
In consolation action, Langenkamp drew the tournament’s No. 12 seed, Tom Eklund of South Carolina. Eklund – a senior from Sweden who played No. 1 for the Gamecocks last season and earned a spot in the NCAA singles tournament – won the first set and went up two service breaks, at 4-1, in the second. But Langenkamp held tough and fought his way into a second-set tiebreaker, which he won. He then cruised in the third set to complete a 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 triumph. It was not only the highest-ranked singles victory in Langenkamp’s career, but also his first in collegiate competition. In fact, he came into the tournament having played just once against a ranked singles player. Langenkamp did post a pair of wins – against #54 Paul Rose of Purdue in the quarterfinals and #100 Eric Hechtman from Miami in the championship – over players who are currently ranked en route to taking the singles title in the ITA National Summer Championships in August (those wins do not count toward his collegiate totals). That triumph earned him a wild card in the main draw of the All-Americans.
Eklund is the highest-ranked player to fall victim to a Notre Dame competitor since #13 Romain Ambert of Mississippi State retired after dropping the first set 6-2 to unranked Luis Haddock on March 13, 2004, in dual-match action at No. 1 singles.
Langenkamp is the first Irish player to take part in the singles main draw of the All-American Championships since Casey Smith advanced to the second round in 2001. He has now rebounded from losing the first set to win the match on six occasions. He is 30-14 in his career in fall action and 26-11 outdoors.
The Irish senior will face 36th-ranked Mark Barry of Penn State on Friday in the round of 16 in the backdraw. Barry played No. 1 for the Nittany Lions last year and earned a berth in the NCAA Singles Championship. He lost in the opening round on Thursday against #2 Ludovic Walter from Duke, but then won in straight sets against Ivan Bjelica of Mississippi State.
Polo Ralph Lauren ITA All-American Championships (October 6)Singles Main Draw#31 Rohan Gajjar (Arkansas) d. #89 Eric Langenkamp (ND) 6-4, 6-4 - first round#89 Eric Langenkamp (ND) d.  #15 Tom Eklund (South Carolina) 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 - consolation
Note: Numbers in brackets are tournament seedings. Numbers preceding names are ITA national rankings.