April 4, 2003
DALLAS, Tex. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (6-10) begins its four-match April slate this weekend by traveling to Dallas to take on #49 Southern Methodist (9-7) on Sunday at noon (CDT). The 55th-ranked Irish lead the series against the Mustangs 2-1, but lost 4-3 in their only previous trip to SMU.
LAST TIME ON THE COURTS: Notre Dame lost 6-1 to No. 25 Miami last Sunday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. The Hurricanes (12-5, 1-1) won the doubles point and five of six singles matches on their way to muddying the BIG EAST conference picture. The only win for the Irish in doubles came at No. 3, with junior Ben Hatten (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill H.S.) and sophomore Paul McNaughton (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) getting their first win in three matches together this season, prevailing 8-4. At No. 2 singles, junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) returned after missing two matches becuase of illness to score the only point for the Irish, beating Andrew Golub 6-4, 6-2. Scott has won seven of his last nine matches.
Notre Dame, Miami, and Virginia Tech — the top three finishers in the BIG EAST a year ago and the only three conference teams listed in the national rankings — all have 1-1 marks against each other, leaving ambiguity regarding the top three seeds in the conference championship, slated for April 25-27 in Coral Gables, Fla.
IRISH vs. MUSTANGS: SMU enters this weekend with a 9-7 (1-0 WAC) record and No. 49 national ranking. The Mustangs have won three of their last four matches and are 7-2 at home. SMU’s two home losses have come to No. 19 VCU and No. 28 TCU and six of their seven losses have been to opponents ranked in the national top 30. The best wins this season for the Mustangs, who were ranked 30th in the preseason, were a 4-3 victory at No. 41 Florida State in February and a 5-2 triumph vs. No. 51 Tulsa last weekend .
SMU has three nationally ranked singles players: freshman Gwinyai Chingoka (52nd), sophomore Johan Brunstrom (55th), and freshman Lukasz Senczyszyn (87th). Brunstrom also is ranked 51st in doubles with freshman Henrik Soderberg, compiling a 6-3 record.
SMU and the Irish have played three common opponents this season: Florida State, Minnesota and Tulsa. Both teams lost to Minnesota and had 4-3 matches against Florida State, but only the Mustangs came out on top of the Seminoles. The Irish suffered a 4-3 loss to Tulsa as well, in the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic, while SMU defeated the Golden Hurricane 5-2 winning their conference opener for the seventh straight season.
A year ago, SMU was 18-13 and won the WAC Championship with victories over Boise State and Tulsa. Listed ninth in the preseason, the Mustangs advanced to the NCAA Championship, but lost 5-2 to VCU in the first round to finish 30th. Carl Neufeld is in his tenth season as head coach at SMU.
Notre Dame and SMU will meet for the fourth time since the series began in 1990. The Irish hold a 2-1 advantage, but the Mustangs won 4-3 in 2001, the only previous meeting in Dallas.
In 2002, the seventh-ranked Irish defeated No. 41 SMU 6-0 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame overcame three 6-2 first set losses to sweep the single matches. The doubles matches were not played due to SMU’s travel schedule. At No. 1, #18 Javier Taborga outlasted #29 Krystian Pfeiffer 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, while #87 Casey Smith beat Johan Brunstrom 6-4, 6-4 at No. 2. Playing at the No. 4 spot, #79 Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) pulled through over Alexis Rudzinski 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Aaron Talarico also had a three set win over Gwinyai Chingoka at No. 3.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Bob Bayliss is in his 16th year at Notre Dame with a 290-138 (.677) record and his 34th year as a collegiate coach with a 572-232 (.711) mark, including 33 straight 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 in 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.
AMONG THE NATION’S ELITE: Notre Dame stands 55th among the 75 teams ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in this week’s Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings, the third 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. 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.) crept back into the national singles rankings at No. 122 on March 26 after being absent in the previous rankings. A new set of individual rankings will be released April 9.
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. Six matches this spring have been decided by 4-3 scores, with five of those tilts being decided by the last singles match on-court. In addition, the Irish lost 4-2 to Duke with the abandoned match in a third set and beat Virginia Tech 5-2 in a contest featuring four three-set affairs.
Notre Dame is 2-4 in one-point matches in ’03, but the Irish have lost four of five contests that have come down to a final singles match with the teams knotted at 3-3, including a pair decided in third-set tiebreakers. 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 come 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. Finally, 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.
MOVIN’ ON UP: After not playing higher than the No. 4 singles position heading into this season, junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) has been making an impact at No. 2 of late. After starting the seasn 5-11, Scott has won seven of his last nine matches. He scored the only point for the Irish against Miami, beating Andrew Golub 6-4, 6-2, and had the clinching win in Notre Dame’s 4-3 victory over No. 46 Purdue, defeating Andrew Wakefield 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.
SECOND TO NONE: Notre Dame’s No. 2 doubles team of tri-captains Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) and Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) has been outstanding of late, winning six of their last seven matches, while having one abandoned with a 6-5 lead. After losing two of three matches together early in the season, head coach Bob Bayliss paired Haddock and Farrell together again on Feb. 19. On that day, they dropped a 9-7 decision to Michigan State. Highlighting the streak were three clinching victories, including winning the last match on-court to give Notre Dame the doubles point vs. Northwestern and Virginia Tech. The pair was 5-0 at home.
STEPPING UP: Two Irish players stepped up in the lineup and delivered victories vs. Virginia Tech. Due to the absence of junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) sitting out the singles portion of the Minnesota match and all of the contest against the Hokies, sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) played No. 2 singles for the first time in his career and tri-captain Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) played No. 3 for just the second time. Farrell broke a five-match losing streak in three-setters, winning one for the first time in nearly two years (since Feb. 24, 2001 vs. Ryan Edlefsen of Northwestern), defeating #64 Saber Kadiri 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, which marked the Irish senior’s first-ever win over a ranked opponent. D’Amico beat Andreas Laulund 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2. A year ago, he played singles in only four dual matches, going 1-3 at No. 6. This season he is 8-5 at No. 3 and 1-1 at No. 2. Scott, who normally plays No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles, has won seven of his last nine in singles.
TURNING IT AROUND: A number of Irish players have been hot of late after struggling early in the season. Junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) has won seven of his last nine matches at No. 2 singles after going 5-11 up to that point this season. After having lost 11 of his previous 13 matches, freshman Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) has now been victorious in six of his last nine contests. In doubles, tri-captains senior Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) and junior Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) lost three of their first four matches together, but have now won six of their last seven.
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 www.und.com. 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 Rottenborn.email@example.com, or Chris Masters at Masters.firstname.lastname@example.org, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.