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Irish Close Out Regular Season Against #12 Kentucky And Indiana State

April 12, 2003

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (7-11) will take the court for the final two times in the 2003 regular season when it faces No. 12 Kentucky and 69th-ranked Indiana State. The Irish will travel to Lexington, Ky., on Sunday for a 1 p.m. (EDT) match with UK, before returning home to battle ISU Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. (EST). Weather permitting, the latter match will take place outdoors at the Courtney Tennis Center.

LAST TIME ON THE COURTS: The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (7-11) won two third-set singles matches to defeat Ball State, 5-2 on Wednesday, April 9 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. It was the seventh time in 11 matches that the Irish have seen three or more singles matches go beyond two sets. After losing the doubles point, Notre Dame surged to a 3-1 lead in singles, leaving the outcome of the match up to the three remaining matches, all in the third set. Posting the only singles win for Ball State, Kevin Burnett topped sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to put the Cardinals within reach at 3-2. Junior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) clinched the win for the Irish, beating Chris Varga 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. The win spoiled a homecoming from Varga, who hails from nearby Granger and attended St. Joseph’s High School. In the last match on the court at the No. 5 position, junior Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (Guaynbo P.R./Colegio Marista) outlasted Patrick Thompson 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. The Irish, who defeated the Cardinals for the 14th consecutive time, moved within a point of victory by winning their first three singles matches in straight sets. At No. 6, freshman Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) beat Klint Knable 6-4, 6-1, while senior tri-captain Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) posted a win at No. 4 over Matt Laramore 6-3, 6-3. Picking up his eighth win of his last eleven matches at No. 2 was junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris), who ousted BSU’s Matthew Baccarani 7-6 (7-5), 6-3. The Cardinals grabbed the doubles point as the Irish struggled in tandem play, losing all three matches. At No. 1, Baccarani and Burnett beat D’Amico and Scott, 8-5. Knable and Andy Rhodes clinched the point for Ball State with an 8-5 win over the Irish team of junior Ben Hatten (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill H.S.) and sophmore Paul McNaughton (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central High). At No. 3, Varga and Thompson completed the doubles sweep, edging out Farrell and Haddock 9-8 (7-5).

IRISH vs. WILDCATS: Kentucky is 12th in the latest Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings, sporting a 16-10 record (6-5 SEC), despite having lost three of its last four matches. The Wildcats have played a rugged schedule this season, facing 19 ranked opponents in 26 matches to date and logging a 9-10 mark against such foes. UK also boasts four wins over Top 25 opponents this year, including victories over No. 14 South Carolina (4-3) and No. 19 Auburn (4-2). In addition, the Wildcats have been rock solid at home, notching a 12-2 mark at the Boone Tennis Complex, the site of Sunday’s match with Notre Dame. The Irish and Kentucky have faced just two common opponents this year — Indiana and Minnesota — with the Wildcats going 1-1 and Notre Dame losing twice against that duo. UK has six returning letterwinners from last year’s squad that reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships for the third time in school history and finished eighth in the final Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings. In addition, Kentucky advanced to the semifinals of the always-tough Southeastern Conference Championships, ousting No. 5 Mississippi along the way. The Wildcats have a very young lineup, sporting just one senior on the eight-man squad. Leading the way has been sophomore All-American Jesse Witten, who reached the singles final at last year’s NCAA Championships before falling to Georgia’s Matias Boeker. Witten is 9-9 in dual match play this year (all at the No. 1 position) and is ranked 16th in the nation. In addition to his singles prowess, Witten makes up one-half of Kentucky’s best doubles tandem. Pairing with junior Rahim Esmail, the Wildcat duo is 13-2 in dual matches (all at No. 2) and is ranked 55th in the country this week. The other ranked UK singles player is junior Karim Benmansour, who checks in at No. 100 after posting a 13-8 dual match record (9-6 at the No. 3 flight). Freshman Alex Hume also has turned in a solid rookie season, recording a team-high 30 overall singles wins (14-6 in dual match action) and logging a 10-6 mark at No. 6. Head coach Dennis Embry is in his 21st season at UK, owning a 384-240 (.615) record in Lexington. He has a career mark of 471-306 (.606) in 26 years as a college coach. Sunday’s match is the 24th career meeting between Notre Dame and Kentucky, with the Irish holding a slim 12-10-1 edge in the series that dates all the way back to 1928. Notre Dame also has won two of the last three series matchups, although UK took the most recent encounter by a 4-1 score last year at the Courtney Tennis Center in South Bend. In that contest, the Wildcats won the bottom two doubles matches to secure the inital point of the afternoon. Kentucky then took three of the first four singles match off the court, including a 6-3, 6-4 win by Witten over No. 18 Javier Taborga at No. 1 to clinch the victory. The remaining two singles matches were abandoned, with 79th-ranked Matthew Scott leading in the third set at No. 5, and UK’s Evan Austin up one set at No. 3.

IRISH vs. SYCAMORES: Indiana State stands 9-9 this season (4-0 in the MVC) and currently is ranked 69th in the most recent Omni Hotel Collegiate Tennis Rankings. ISU was scheduled to play a trio of matches over the weekend (vs. Drake, Creighton and Iowa) before coming to South Bend on Tuesday to face Notre Dame. The Irish and Syacmores have faced five common opponents this year — Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan — with the Irish going 3-2 and Indiana State losing four of five against that mutual quintet. Two of the three Notre Dame wins (Purdue and Michigan) and one of its losses (Northwestern) against the common group were by 4-3 scores, while ISU lost 4-3 decisions to both Northwestern and Michigan. The Sycamores have a veteran core on this year’s club, with five seniors leading the way for the eight-man roster. All five were key players in ISU’s 23-10 campaign last year and fourth consecutive Missouri Valley Conference championship. The Sycamores also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championships before falling to Illinois (which would oust Notre Dame in the next round). In addition, Indiana State has a distinct international flavor to its team, as nine countries (Mexico, Croatia, Canada, Romania, Ukraine, United States, Ireland, Sweden and South Africa) are represented by the 2003 ISU netters and their coaching staff. The only ranked Indiana State singles player this year is senior Verdan Vidovic, who appears at No. 89 in the latest Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings that were released last Wednesday. Vidovic was 7-8 in dual match singles play heading into this weekend (12-10 overall), while playing entirely at the No. 1 position. While Vidovic is the only ranked ISU player, four other Sycamores have posted at least 10 wins in dual match action this year. Setting the pace is senior Henry Choi, who has a 12-5 record at the No. 2 flight. Head coach Peter Magnusson is in his second season at Indiana State, owning a 32-19 (.627) record in Terre Haute. Magnusson is a 1999 graduate of ISU, earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the school. Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Indiana State by a 15-4 count, including a 4-0 mark since head coach Bob Bayliss arrived on the scene in 1988. In fact, the Irish have won six consecutive matches against the Sycamores, dating back to ISU’s last series win (a 5-4 decision) on April 21, 1985. Notre Dame kept that streak intact last season, outlasting No. 29 Indiana State, 5-2 in Terre Haute. After losing the doubles point, the fourth-ranked Irish found themselves in a dogfight, as the top four singles matches all went to third sets. However, Notre Dame show its mettle and won all four marathon contests to secure the victory.

AMONG THE NATION’S ELITE: Notre Dame stands 60th among the 75 teams ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in the latest Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings, the fourth set to be based on the point-per-match computer formula, as opposed to coaches’ voting, which determined all the previous sets of rankings this season. A new listing will be released on Wednesday. The Irish have been listed in every set of national rankings since head coach Bob Bayliss, in just his third year at the school, guided Notre Dame to its first-ever national ranking midway through the 1990 season, meaning the Irish have been constantly ranked for over 13 consecutive seasons, in more than 200 straight sets of rankings. Junior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) has climbed back into the Top 100 of national singles rankings, appearing at No. 97 in the newest set of individual rankings that were released last Wednesday.

DO THEY ALL HAVE TO BE THIS CLOSE?: The Irish have had a penchant for playing matches with outcomes undecided until late in the affair. Seven matches this spring have been decided by 4-3 scores, with five of those tilts being decided by the last singles match on-court and one with the score tied 3-3 and the doubles matches remaining. In addition, the Irish lost 4-2 to Duke with the abandoned match in a third set and beat Virginia Tech and Ball State by 5-2 scores in contests that each featured at least three three-set affairs (four vs. VT, three vs. BSU). Notre Dame is 2-5 in one-point matches in ’03, and the Irish have lost five of six contests that were tied 3-3 with one point remaining. Zach Held pulled out a three-setter against Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) to lead Indiana over the Irish in the season opener. At No. 1, Mat Cloer finished a close straight-set decision over Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) to help Florida State edge Notre Dame. Two consecutive February matches not only came down to the last match on-court, but were decided by a third-set tiebreaker in that contest. Haddock topped Andy Formanczyk 7-2 in the breaker at No. 1 in Notre Dame’s win over Michigan State, but Adam Schaechterle edged Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) 7-3 in the deciding tiebreaker to help Northwestern over the Irish just three days later. Both of those deciding matches also featured tiebreakers prior to the final set. Tulsa’s Dustin Taylor rallied from a 5-2 third-set deficit for a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) win over Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) in the first round of the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic. Finally, the Irish led 3-2 against SMU with the lone remaining singles match in a third-set tiebreaker and Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) leading 3-1 before Lukasz Senczyszyn won six of the final seven points to win the tiebreaker and even the match at 3-3, setting up SMU to win the doubles point to claim victory.

D’AMICO’S DAY: Notre Dame’s Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) had his best day as a collegiate player on April 6 vs. SMU. The Irish sophomore posted his biggest-ever upsets in both singles and doubles, knocking off a top-55 singles player and a top-55 doubles team in the same day. D’Amico teamed with Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) to pull off a tiebreaker victory at No. 1 doubles against Johan Brunstrom and Henrik Soderberg, the 51st-ranked team in college tennis. Immediately thereafter, D’Amico delivered a convincing 6-4, 6-2 upset of #52 Gwinyai Chingoka at No. 3 singles. Prior to Sunday, D’Amico had just two career wins over ranked players in singles (vs. #84 Ryler DeHeart of Illinois and #114 Alex Herrera of Florida State in back-to-back matches in January) and one in doubles (over #55 Ryan Livesay/Dustin Taylor of Tulsa in the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic). Overall, D’Amico is 10-7 in singles dual matches (1-1 at No. 2, 9-6 at No. 3) after playing in just four dual matches a year ago, going 1-3 at No. 6. In doubles, D’Amico is 8-10 this spring — all at No. 1 — after being 14-7 a year ago, playing all but one match at No. 3.

BATTLE-TESTED: Each of Notre Dame’s regular starters in singles has had extensive experience this season playing in close matches while the outcome of the team match is hanging in the balance. Junior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) has been playing in crunch time at No. 1 on five occasions. With the match tied 3-3, he lost to Mat Cloer of Florida State in a close two-setter, but defeated Michigan State’s Andy Formanczyk in a third-set tiebreaker. Haddock lost 7-5 in the third set to Tommy Hanus with the Irish leading 3-2 against Northwestern, but came through in three sets against Francis Huot of Virginia Tech and SMU’s Johan Brunstrom (in a final-set tiebreaker). At No. 2, junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) beat Andrew Wakefield in a close two-setter to clinch the 4-3 win over Purdue, but has had his only two three-set matches of the spring be losses in 4-3 Notre Dame defeats. Tulsa’s Alejandro Tejerina beat Scott in the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic and Lukasz Senczyszyn of SMU rallied from a 3-1 deficit in a third-set tiebreaker for a win to even that match at 3-3. Sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) fell in a third-set tiebreaker after leading 5-2 in the final set against Dustin Taylor of Tulsa, with the match tied 3-3 in the Blue/Gray Classic. D’Amico also lost a three-set verdict to Cameron Marshall of Michigan State in Notre Dame’s 4-3 win against the Spartans. Senior tri-captain Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) lost to Indiana’s Zach Held in three sets with the match tied 3-3 in the season opener, fell 7-5 in the third to Jonathan Stokke of Duke to clinch the Blue Devils’ 4-2 win, fell 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) to Shunsuke Shimizu of Tulsa in the 4-3 loss to the Golden Hurricane, and lost in three sets to Alexis Rudzinski of SMU in the one-point defeat at the hands of the Mustangs. Farrell came through against Virginia Tech, upsetting #64 Saber Kadiri in three sets in one of four three-setters in a 5-2 match. Junior Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (Guaynabo, P.R./Colegio Marista) has been in three-setters in one-point matches four times this season. He won against Jimmy McGuire of Michigan State and SMU’s Henrik Soderberg in 4-3 matches, but fell to Purdue’s David Robinson and Northwestern’s Ahmed Wahla. Freshman Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) has dropped three-setters on three occasions this spring when the Irish ended up losing 4-3. He fell to Jullien Vulliez of Indiana in the season opener, to Adam Schaechterle of Northwestern in a third-set tiebreaker with the match tied 3-3, and to Tulsa’s Tom Murray in the first round of the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic. Buchanan came through in a similar situation against Virginia Tech, defeating Michael Kurz in three sets to clinch the Irish victory.

IRISH HEAD COACH BOB BAYLISS: Now in his 16th year at Notre Dame, Bob Bayliss owns a 291-139 (.677) record and a 573-233 (.711) mark in 34 years as a collegiate coach, including 33 consecutive winning seasons. He ranks sixth among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories and is one of just three coaches to have led his current team to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 12 seasons, a streak that also represents the longest of any sport at Notre Dame. Bayliss’ Irish have finished in the Top 20 nine times in the past 13 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 and has been honored as his conference’s top coach on 10 occasions, including three times in seven years by the BIG EAST. In his time at Notre Dame, Bayliss’ teams have won 10 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. A member of the University of Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English while playing tennis and basketball, Bayliss began his coaching career at Navy, where he coached for 11 years. He coached at MIT for three years before coming to Notre Dame in 1988.

BAYLISS TO COACH ITA ALL-STAR TEAM ON JAPANESE TOUR: Irish men’s tennis coach Bob Bayliss will be one of two coaches leading a 10-player Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-Star Team in a pair of exhibition matches in Tokyo, Japan this summer, the ITA announced on April 9. The team, comprised of top players from all of the ITA’s divisions (NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College), will help Waseda University celebrate its 100th anniversary of tennis by competing in two exhibition matches in Tokyo. Matches are scheduled to take place at Ariake Stadium, which holds 10,000 spectators. On June 14, the ITA All-Stars will face Waseda University, which earned the No. 1 ranking in Japan last year, before the U.S. squad takes on a Japanese All-Star Team the following day. The matches will feature a format similar to that used in World Team Tennis, which features men and women competing together on the same team in men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.

TOUGH YEAR: Notre Dame’s 11 regular-season losses in 2003 are the most since the 1991 squad entered the NCAA Championship with an 18-11 record before finishing 19-12. The Irish began the year with four consecutive losses after no previous Notre Dame had started worse than 0-2 in the 81-year history of the program. Standing 7-11 with just two regular-season matches remaining, this year’s team is in danger of being the first Irish contingent since 1978 and the first Bob Bayliss-coached squad ever to have a losing record. In ’78, Notre Dame was 12-14.

KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME TENNIS: For the fastest results of Notre Dame tennis matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #8. The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame tennis match. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Bo Rottenborn at, or Chris Masters at, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.

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