Jan. 16, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Irish senior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and local product freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) are listed 18th in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings, released Tuesday. Senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) is 68th in singles, while the Irish are 49th among the 75 teams listed in the ITA preseason rankings.
Haddock and Keckley combined for a 6-3 record in fall play and are the first Notre Dame doubles team in the national rankings since Casey Smith and Javier Taborga finished 2001-02 eighth. The current Irish pair won five matches in posting a runner-up finish in the ITA Midwest Championships after having played just three previous contests together. In the title match, they fell to Illinois’ Mike Calkins and Chris Martin, now ranked 14th. The other losses for the Irish pair came at No. 2 in an exhibition match vs. USC and to Bryan Fisher and Jason Hazley of LSU, then the nation’s No. 7 team, on the first day of the fall season, Sept. 12. Haddock and Keckley were second in the Midwest Region rankings, released last month.
Scott was 10-4 in the fall, notching three victories over ranked foes after having just two in his first three seasons of collegiate competition. Three of his losses were to ranked players and each of those were either in third sets or match tiebreakers. Scott, who returned to the national rankings for the first time since this time last year, was the consolation champion in the A flight of the Rice Crowne Plaza Invitational before posting a runner-up finish in the adidas Invitational and reaching the round of 16 in the regional tournament. He opened the season 6-1, with three wins over top-65 opponents, highlighted by a 6-2, 6-3 victory against #18 Richard Barker of Rice. Scott lost in three sets to #87 Johan Berg (now ranked 35th) in Notre Dame’s exhibition loss to USC. His other losses came against #21 William Barker of Rice, #38 Ludovic Walter of Duke (now seventh), and Avery Ticer of Minnesota. Scott, who was 12th in the Midwest Region listing, has a career singles record of 74-30 (.712).
Junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) was one of 14 players who were ranked in the preseason, but did not play in the fall and thus were listed as “insufficient data” to be listed in this set of rankings. Previously 99th in singles, he did not see any singles action in the fall of ’03 after undergoing elbow surgery in June. Following a freshman season in which he played singles in just four dual matches (going 1-3 at No. 6), D’Amico made the jump to No. 3 a year ago and excelled. He won his first six matches at that position and finished 11-7 there. In all, he was 21-18, including four victories over ranked opponents. D’Amico, who earned his first career ranking late in the season before dropping out of the final listings, was honored at the end of 2002-03 as the team’s MVP.
Notre Dame, which finished last season 10-12 and 54th in the nation, is listed in the preseason rankings for the 14th consecutive season. This year marks the lowest preseason ranking for the Irish since the ITA started ranking more than 25 teams and is just the second time since 1990-91 Notre Dame has not started the spring in the national top 30.
Fifteen of the 19 Irish dual-match opponents are listed among the top 65 in the preseason rankings, including four in the top 10. Three of the first six Notre Dame matches this spring will be against top-10 squads: Jan. 23 vs. #9 Texas A&M, Jan. 27 vs. #10 Kentucky, and Feb. 1 at #8 Duke. The Irish also will travel to defending NCAA champion and preseason No. 1 Illinois on Feb. 26. Notre Dame is the fourth-highest of 13 Midwest Region teams in the rankings, behind the Illini, #15 Minnesota, and #17 Ohio State, which visits the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Feb. 28. The Irish are the second of three BIG EAST Conference teams in the rankings, behind Miami (35th) and ahead of Virginia Tech (55th).
Notre Dame will get a shot at the national No. 1s in both singles and doubles this spring. Ohio State’s Jeremy Wurtzman is the top-ranked singles player, while Lester Cook and Ante Matijevic of Texas A&M sit atop the doubles listing. The Irish also will see the nation’s No. 2 doubles team, Jason Zimmerman and Ludovic Walter of Duke, highlighting a total of five top-20 singles players and five top-20 doubles pairs on the dual-match schedule.
The ITA releases 15 sets of team rankings (released bi-weekly until Feb. 24 and weekly thereafter) and 10 individual listings (one in September, one in January, then bi-weekly from Feb. 24 till April 20 and weekly thereafter). They are based on coaches voting for the first part of the season, but both then switch to computer rankings (first individual computer rankings released Feb. 24 and first team computer rankings on March 23).
Notre Dame will begin its spring season Saturday at #51 Indiana before opening at home on Jan. 23 vs. ninth-ranked Texas A&M at 4 p.m. (EST) in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. It will be the Aggies’ first-ever trip to Notre Dame and this season’s men’s tennis “Gold Game,” a distinction created by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council to encourage the entire Notre Dame community to attend designated contests.