March 2, 2010
URBANA, Ill. – After the outcome was in doubt for much of the night, the Fighting Irish men’s tennis team was edged at No. 12 Illinois inside the Atkins Tennis Center on Tuesday night, 5-2. After Illinois and the Irish traded leads, the match came down to third sets at third and fourth singles, where the Fighting Illini eventually proved victorious. With the loss, the 38th-ranked Irish move to 6-6 on the season, while the Illini even their record at 5-5.
In doubles action, Illinois took a 1-0 lead with a win at the No. 3 position when Bruno Abdelnour and Johnny Hamui defeated the Irish team of Matt Johnson (Portage, Mich./Portage Central) and David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) 8-1. The Irish countered with a win at No. 1 doubles, as Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio/Hill Christian School) and Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) notched an 8-2 win over 49th-ranked Marek Czerwinski and Stephen Hoh to tie it up at one doubles win apiece. Illinois then earned the doubles point to take a 1-0 overall lead when Abe Souza and Connor Roth edged Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan) and Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland/Blackrock College) 8-6 at second doubles.
Samuel Keeton (Kansas City, Mo./The Pembroke Hill School) tied the overall match at 1-1 when he cruised past Roth at fifth singles 6-2, 6-1. The win improved Keeton’s 2010 dual season singles record to 8-0 and his eight consecutive wins mark a career high for the sophomore, besting his career opening run of 6-0 last spring.
At second singles, Havens downed Johnny Hamui in similarly impressive fashion 6-0, 6-1. The win staked the Irish to a 2-1 lead.
Illinois tied the match at 2-2 when 106th-ranked Marek Czerwinski downed 19th-ranked Watt in a lengthy two-setter 7-5, 6-4. In the first set Watt battled back from a 2-4 deficit to tie it at 5-5, but Czerwinski took two straight to win the set.
Illinois reclaimed the lead with a win from Bruno Abdelnour at sixth singles over Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla./Pine Crest School) 6-4, 6-3. Moros jumped out to early leads of 3-1 and 3-2 in his sets but could not hold off Abdelnour.
Stephen Hoh clinched the match by outlasting Anderson at fourth singles 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Anderson led for most of the first set before winning it. Anderson then battled from narrow deficits but could not quite rally from 2-3 deficits in both the second and third sets, as Hoh was able to hand Anderson just his third loss of the season (against seven wins).
With the match already clinched in favor of the Illini, junior Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) had a chance to draw the Irish closer but came up just short against 66th-ranked Abe Souza 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8) at third singles.
The match was the second dramatic outcome in as many years between the two teams, with home court advantage proving decisive in both instances. Last season, on the strength of an Anderson win at fifth singles, Notre Dame edged then ninth-ranked Illinois, 4-3, at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Next, the Irish head to the sunshine state for two matches that will take place at the end of Notre Dame’s spring break. On Friday, March 12, Notre Dame faces BIG EAST rival South Florida in Tampa, Fla. Then, on Sunday, March 14, the Irish will take on 19th-ranked Florida State. Check back with UND.com for complete recaps of those matches.
The most recent Campbell/ITA rankings were released on Monday and the Irish moved up to 38th … in the individual rankings, Casey Watt moved up to 19th and Daniel Stahl moved to a career best 72nd … Notre Dame has now faced a ranked opponent in nine of its 12 matches (the Campbell/ITA rankings slot the top-75 teams) … Sam Keeton is 7-0 in 2010 dual season singles play … six of Notre Dame’s 12 matches have been decided by just one point … Notre Dame is 5-1 on the season when claiming the doubles point.
Illinois vs. Notre DameMarch 2, 2010 at Urbana, Ill.#12 Illinois 4, #38 Notre Dame 2
Singles1. #106 Marek Czerwinski (UI) def. #19 Casey Watt (ND) 7-5, 6-42. Stephen Havens (ND) def. Johnny Hamui (UI) 6-0, 6-13. #66 Abe Souza (UI) def. #72 Daniel Stahl (ND) 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8)4. Stephen Hoh (UI) def. David Anderson (ND) 4-6, 6-2, 6-35. Samuel Keeton (ND) def. Connor Roth (UI) 6-2, 6-16. Bruno Abdelnour (UI) def. Blas Moros (ND) 6-4, 6-3
Doubles1. Casey Watt/Stephen Havens (ND) def. #49 Marek Czerwinski/Stephen Hoh (UI) 8-42. Abe Souza/Connor Roth (UI) def. Niall Fitzgerald/Tyler Davis (ND) 8-63. Bruno Abdelnour/Johnny Hamui (UI) def. David Anderson/Matt Johnson (ND) 8-1
Match NotesIllinois 5-5; National ranking #12Notre Dame 6-6; National ranking #38