Feb. 22, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After compiling a 3-1 lead, the 44th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (3-6) lost a trio of three-set matches to drop a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to #40 Northwestern Saturday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Down 3-2, the Wildcats got big wins from sophomore Tommy Hanus at No. 1 and freshman Adam Schaechterle, who won a third-set tiebreaker against Irish freshman Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) at No. 5 in the final match on-court. The Wildcats (7-2) won four of six singles matches to beat the Irish for the first time in five years.
After falling behind 3-1, junior Ahmed Wahla started the Northwestern rally by completing a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win over Irish junior Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (Guaynabo, P.R./Colegio Marista) at No. 6 singles.
The final two matches on the court ended within seconds of each other, completing the Wildcats comeback. Hanus, ranked 117th in the nation in singles, broke serve in the 11th game of the final set and finished a classic 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (3-7), 7-5 victory against Notre Dame junior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) at No. 1 singles. With the entire match now riding on a third-set tiebreaker in the No. 5 match, it took only two more points for Schaechterle to complete his 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) win over Buchanan.
Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point for just the third time this spring. Junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) and sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) finished first with an 8-6 win at No. 1. Schaechterle and Josh Axler, ranked 31st nationally, then rallied from a 4-2 deficit for an 8-5 win at No. 3 to place the fate of the match’s initial point with the No. 2 position, where the Irish snapped a seven-match losing skid. Haddock and senior tri-captain Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) came through with an 8-6 victory over Hanus and Russell Bennett.
Axler tied the match with a 6-1, 6-3 win over D’Amico at No. 3. The Irish sophomore has lost two straight after starting the fall 6-0.
Farrell then topped Chuck Perrin 6-4, 6-2 at No. 4 before Scott, ranked 119th, put the Irish within a point of victory with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) win over Jackie Jenkins.
Saturday’s match marked the second in a row for the Irish that came down to a third-set tiebreaker in the final match on-court with the affair tied 3-3. On Wednesday, Haddock came through with a win at No. 1 to help Notre Dame over Michigan State on the road.
After playing eight 4-3 matches out of 30 contests a year ago, the Irish have played five one-point matches in nine tilts in 2003, winning a pair on the road and dropping three at home, as well as a 4-2 match.
Notre Dame dropped to 0-5 at home this season. After going 10-0 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion a year ago, the Irish must now win all five remaining home dates to avoid the first losing season in the 16-year history of the facility. This is just the second season Notre Dame has lost more than three matches in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish were 11-7 in the building in 1988.
The Wildcat victory tied the all-time series between the two schools at 35-35-1. Northwestern is tied with Michigan State as the most-common opponent in the 81-year history of the Irish program.
Notre Dame will return to the courts next weekend, taking part in the Pacific Coast Doubles tournament in La Jolla, Calif. The Irish will next be in dual-match action on Thursday, March 6 against Michigan at home.
#40 Northwestern 4, #44 Notre Dame 3
No. 1: #117 Tommy Hanus (NU) d. #72 Luis Haddock (ND) 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-3), 7-5
No. 2: #119 Matthew Scott (ND) d. Jackie Jenkins (NU) 6-2, 7-6 (7-4)
No. 3: Josh Axler (NU) d. Brent D’Amico (ND) 6-1, 6-3
No. 4: Brian Farrell (ND) d. Chuck Perrin (NU) 6-4, 6-2
No. 5: Adam Schaechterle (NU) d. Patrick Buchanan (ND) 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)
No. 6: Ahmed Wahla (NU) d. Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (ND) 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
No. 1: D’Amico/Scott (ND) d. Jenkins/Perrin (NU) 8-6
No. 2: Haddock/Farrell (ND) d. Russell Bennett/Hanus (NU) 8-3
No. 3: #31 Axler/Schaechterle (NU) d. Lopez-Acevedo/Ben Hatten (ND) 8-5