Jan. 17, 2004
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The 49th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team opened its spring season with a 6-1 victory at #51 Indiana (0-1) Saturday afternoon in the IU Tennis Center. Five of the six singles matches were decided in three sets, with the Irish winning all but one. Notre Dame will begin a four-match homestand on Friday, welcoming #9 Texas A&M for a 4 p.m. (EST) match in the men’s tennis “Gold Game.”
“We don’t get too many style points for this match, but the guys really dug down when they had to and played well at crunch time,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss, who has helped his teams to wins in seven of their last nine season openers. “It was good to get a win on the road, and Indiana is a much-improved team.”
Notre Dame led 2-0 with all five remaining singles matches destined for third sets. Irish freshman Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) completed a comeback in his dual-match debut for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Dmytro Ishtuganov at No. 5 to give Notre Dame a 3-0 advantage.
Indiana got on the board when Jakub Praibis, who was ranked 70th in the preseason national singles rankings but missed the fall due to injuries, finished a rally to top Irish senior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 6-2 at No. 1. Up a set and 4-3 in the second, Haddock had three break points, but Praibis battled back in that game and went on to win nine of the final 11 games.
Freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) then clinched the Notre Dame victory by prevailing over Ryan McCarthy, who transferred from Furman prior to this season, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 at No. 4. After Bass took a 3-0 lead in the decisive set, McCarthy rallied to go up a service break, which gave him an opportunity to serve for the match at 5-4. But the Notre Dame freshman battled back in his first dual match and delivered the Irish triumph over the same team that edged Notre Dame in last spring’s opener, 4-3. Bass is 7-2 this season in singles.
After the outcome was determined, junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) finished a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3) victory over Neil Kenner, a transfer from Washington University in St. Louis, at No. 3. D’Amico was playing singles collegiately for the first time this season after seeing only doubles action in the fall following elbow surgery in June.
Sophomore Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) then gained his first career singles win in dual-match play with a 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-2 decision over John Stone at No. 6. Langenkamp, who already has eclipsed his win total from a season ago with a 10-2 record, was forced into action when Notre Dame freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) suffered a leg injury in doubles and was forced to withdraw from the singles lineup.
The lone player to finish his match with a straight-set victory was Irish senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris), who beat Rylan Recht 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2. Scott, ranked 68th nationally in singles, was bothered by a stress fracture in his right foot for much of the fall and had stopped playing to rehabilitate it in October. Prior to Saturday, he had not played a complete set in singles — even in practice — since the Oct. 23-28 ITA Midwest Championships. Scott’s availability to play in singles on Saturday was questionable as late as Friday evening. He leads the Irish in singles victories this season with an 11-4 mark.
Notre Dame has won seven of its last eight matches in Bloomington despite the fast courts in the IU Tennis Center.
“The courts were slick and fast, as we knew they would be,” said Bayliss. “But we practiced twice on them, and we practiced in the South Bend Racquet Club, which has faster courts, on Wednesday and Thursday this week. We still had a little trouble adjusting, but that extra preparation may have made a difference in some of those close matches.”
Indiana took the early advantage in doubles, when Ishtuganov and Kenner prevailed 8-4 at No. 3 over Bass and senior Paul Hidaka (Tokyo, Japan/St. Mary’s International School), who was making his dual-match debut. The Irish struck back with an 8-5 win at No. 1 from Haddock and Keckley, the nation’s 18th-ranked team. The Irish pair improved to 8-2 this season. D’Amico and Scott were victorious in the final contest on court, defeating McCarthy and Praibis 8-5 at No. 2 to give Notre Dame the initial point of the match.
#49 Notre Dame 6, #51 Indiana 1
No. 1: Jakub Praibis (I) d. Luis Haddock (ND) 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 6-2
No. 2: #68 Matthew Scott (ND) d. Rylan Recht (I) 6-3, 6-4
No. 3: Brent D’Amico (ND) d. Neil Kenner (I) 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3)
No. 4: *Stephen Bass (ND) d. Ryan McCarthy (I) 3-6, 6-2, 7-5
No. 5: Barry King (ND) d. Dmytro Ishtuganov (I) 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
No. 6: Eric Langenkamp (ND) d. John Stone (I) 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-2
Order of Finish: 2, 5, 1, 4*, 3, 6
No. 1: #18 Haddock/Ryan Keckley (ND) d. Recht/Stone (I) 8-5
No. 2: *D’Amico/Scott (ND) d. McCarthy/Praibis (I) 8-5
No. 3: Ishtuganov/Kenner (I) d. S. Bass/Paul Hidaka (ND) 8-4
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2*