Feb. 20, 2004
EVANSTON, Ill. and NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 50th-ranked University Of Notre Dame men’s tennis is primed for a busy weekend against two of the nation’s top-40 teams. The Irish will travel to Evanston, Illinois to face #37 Northwestern on Saturday at 3:00p.m. (CST) before returning home to host the 40th-ranked SMU Mustangs Sunday at noon (EST) in the Eck Tennis Pavilion
LAST TIME ON THE COURTS: Notre Dame improved to 3-0 against Big Ten opponents this season with a 5-2 victory over Wisconsin (2-2) Sunday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. After losing the doubles point, the Irish won each of the bottom five singles contests en route to their third consecutive home victory. Junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) played No. 4 singles for the first time in his career, topping Scott Green 6-4, 6-4 to clinch the victory for Notre Dame. The bottom half of the singles lineup continued to be a strength for the Irish. With a trio of wins Saturday, Notre Dame is 17-4 at Nos. 4, 5, and 6 this spring, with three of the losses coming against Duke, now ranked No. 6 in the country.
IRISH VS. WILDCATS: Northwestern welcomes Notre Dame in the last match of an eight-match home stand. The Wildcats enter the weekend with an 8-3 record and ranked 37th in the nation. Northwestern registered a shutout over DePaul on Wednesday February 18. The ‘Cats also boast wins over four currently-ranked teams, #32 Pepperdine, #75 Northern Illinois, #62 Ball State and #25 Arkansas. The Wildcats were 10-12 in 2003, 9th in the Big Ten and finished the season with a national ranking of 58. Paul Torricelli is in his 21st season as head coach for Northwester with a 294-210 (.583) overall record.
Saturday will be the 73rd meeting between the two teams, with Northwestern holding the advantage, 36-35-1. The Irish have won 10 of the last 15 matches, the most recent a 5-2 win in Evanston in 2001. The series dates back to 1927 and Northwestern is tied with Michigan State as Notre Dame’s most common-opponent.
Last season Northwestern rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Irish 4-3. Adam Schaechterle delivered the clinching victory as last match on-court, beating Patrick Buchanan 6-7(8-6), 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) at No. 5 singles.
IRISH VS. MUSTANGS: Southern Methodist, ranked 40th nationally with a record of 2-3, will travel to the University of Illinois-Chicago for a Friday afternoon match before continuing on to Notre Dame. The Mustangs suffered a 6-1 loss against No. 20 Texas on Sunday February 15. Both of SMU’s wins have come at home, as the Mustang’s recorded a shutout against Lamar and posted a 5-2 victory over #69 Arkansas-Little Rock. SMU’s No. 1 player, Johan Brunstrom holds a national ranking in both singles and doubles, tied for 89th in singles and tied for 39th in doubles teamed with sophomore Henrik Soderberg. Junior Gwinyai Chingoka was ranked 40th in the pre-season in singles, but had insufficient data for the spring national rankings. Junior Paul McNaughton makes his return to Notre Dame after transferring to SMU in the summer of 2003. Last season, the Mustangs were 16-12 and finished second in the Western Athletic Conference. SMU returns five starters from a squad that led the Mustangs to their fifth straight NCAA appearance and finished the season ranked 40th in the nation. Carl Neufeld is in his 11th season as head Coach at Southern Methodist.
Sunday will mark the fifth meeting between the Notre Dame and SMU since the series began in 1990. The series is tied at two apiece, with the Irish winning once at home and once on neutral courts. The last Irish win came in 2002 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion, as Notre Dame posted a 6-0 victory. In last years meeting, the teams split the singles matches, before Eric Cohn and Ryan Mauck prevailed, 8-6, over Brain Farrell and Luis Haddock at No. 2 doubles as the last match on court to secure the 4-3 Mustang victory.