Oct. 16, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team will play host to the USC Trojans Friday afternoon in an exhibition match in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Nos. 7 and 8 singles will kick off the action at 2 p.m. (EST), with Nos. 4-6 singles starting at 4 p.m. and doubles and Nos. 1-3 singles to follow. The Irish women’s team will also take on the Trojans in a match played concurrently.
IRISH vs. TROJANS: This will mark the 16th meeting between the two squads. The Trojans lead the series 8-1 and have won five of six exhibition matches. The lone Irish official victory came in the 1992 NCAA semifinals, where Notre Dame upset the top-ranked Trojans 5-1 to advance to the national title match for the first time in school history. In the teams’ last meeting, Notre Dame won five of six singles matches to post a 5-2 fall exhibition win in 2001 over a USC squad that would go on to win the national championship.
The Trojans return six starters from a team that finished 14-12 in 2003 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tornament. Junior Johan Berg is ranked 87th nationally in singles and seniors Parker Collins and Daniel Langre are the 41st-ranked doubles team in the country.
Peter Smith is in his second year as the head coach of the Trojans, with a 14-12 record at USC and a 284-147 mark in his 16 years of coaching. Prior to his stint at Southern California, Smith spent five seasons leading Pepperdine. In his final two campaigns with the Waves, current Irish assistant Todd Doebler served as his assistant coach.
LAST TIME ON THE COURTS: The Irish posted a combined 26-14 record in the 17th annual Tom Fallon Invitational, Oct. 3-5 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Four Notre Dame players were unbeaten in the TFI, with freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph H.S.) as the only Notre Dame player to go 5-0 over the weekend. Junior Jimmy Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) competed only in singles in the Tom Fallon, winning all three matches. Also perfect on the weekend were a pair of tri-captains: senior Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) and junior Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School). Scott won a pair of matches in both singles and doubles to improve to 8-2 and 4-1, respectively, this season. D’Amico returned to the court in the TFI for the first time since undergoing elbow surgery in June. He won in his only two matches, both in doubles.
SUPER SCOTTY: Senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) has been a giant killer in the opening month of the season. After three tournaments he stands 8-2 with three victories over players ranked in the national top 65. In the Rice Crowne Plaza Invitational, Scott dropped the opening set, but came back for a 3-6, 7-6, 6-2 triumph over Tulsa’s 58th-ranked Dustin Taylor. Then Rice’s #18 Richard Barker fell victim to the Irish senior on the final day of the tournament in a 6-2, 6-3 decision. Later that month, Scott struck again with a 6-2, 6-2 win over the second seed, #63 Fabrizio Sestini of TCU, in the round of 16 in the adidas Invitational. Prior to this season, Scott had just two wins over ranked opponents throughout his career, having gone winless in eight matches vs. ranked foes a year ago.
Scott’s two losses came to players listed among the top 40 in college tennis. He lost a match tiebreaker to #21 William Barker of Rice in the first match of the season and then fell to 38th-ranked Ludovic Walter of Duke in the final of the adidas.
STARTING OUT WITH A BANG: Local product freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph H.S.) has not lost a set in the first month of his collegiate career. He is 6-0 on the young season. Freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) has not been beaten in doubles; he picked up two wins at the Rice Crowne Plaza Invitational with freshman Bobby McNally (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Preparatory School) followed by two victories at the TFI with Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.). Bass and Langenkamp are both 5-1 in singles.
CAPTAINS EARN PRESEASON NATIONAL RANKINGS: All three Irish tri-captains earned mention in the preseason Intercollegiate Tennis Assocation (ITA) national singles and doubles rankings, released last month. Senior Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and junior Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) each gained career-best listings in singles, coming in at 64th and 100th, respectively. In doubles, D’Amico and senior Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) are ranked for the first time, at 50th.
THREE OF A KIND: After never having tri-captains in the first 80 seasons of Notre Dame varsity tennis, the Irish have had three team leaders in each of the last two seasons. A year ago, Brian Farrell was joined by Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris). The latter two return as captains this season, becoming the 10th and 11th players in school history to serve multiple terms. They are joined by junior Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School). In all, 74 teams had a single captain, five had a pair, and the 1984 squad was captainless.
TOUGH DUAL SLATE AWAITS IRISH: During the spring dual-match season, Notre Dame will face a schedule including the defending national champions and nine NCAA tournament participants from a year ago. The Irish will have 10 home matches, highlighted by the first-ever visit by Texas A&M (Jan. 23), which finished ’03 ranked 11th in the nation, as well as matches against Kentucky (Jan. 27, ranked 16th at end of ’03), Ohio State (Feb. 28, 17th), and BIG EAST rival Miami (Feb. 29, 33rd). Notre Dame also will have a number of difficult road trips, including matches at defending NCAA champion Illinois (Feb. 26) and Duke (Jan. 31), which was ranked ninth at the end of last season. The Irish will face four opponents they did not see in ’03: Texas A&M, St. John’s (Jan. 25 at home), Illinois State (Jan. 25 at home), and St. Joseph’s (March 7 in La Jolla, Calif.).
The fall slate features seven events, but three will be for just the top two or three Irish players. Notre Dame’s two home dates are the Oct. 3-5 Tom Fallon Invitational and an exhibition match vs. USC on Oct. 17.
IRISH EXCEL ACADEMICALLY, AS WELL: Notre Dame was one of 24 Division I men’s tennis programs to earn a 2002-03 ITA All-Academic Team award, which goes to teams with a cumulative GPA of 3.20 or better. The Irish were one of just four squads to earn the distinction and finish in the top 55 in the final national rankings. Notre Dame, which had a 3.273 team average, was led by senior Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and junior Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School), who also were named ITA Scholar-Athletes for earning a monogram and maintaining at least a 3.50 GPA for the season.
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 all 26 varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website, 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.firstname.lastname@example.org or Eileen Carroll at email@example.com, who also can provide any needed information about the Irish tennis program.