Jan. 21, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Eck Tennis Pavilion will be busy, as the 49th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (1-0) plays four home matches in five days. The Irish will open their home slate on Friday at 4 p.m. (EST) by welcoming #9 Texas A&M (3-0) for the men’s tennis “Gold Game.” Notre Dame will play host to a Sunday doubleheader featuring matchups with St. John’s (9 a.m.) and Illinois State (2 p.m.) prior to facing #10 Kentucky on Tuesday at 4 p.m. (EST). The match with the Aggies begins a stretch of three contests vs. top-10 foes in 10 days.
The “Gold Game” distinction was created by Student-Athlete Advisory Council to encourage the entire Notre Dame community to attend particular contests.
LAST TIME ON THE COURTS: Notre Dame opened its spring season with a 6-1 victory at #51 Indiana 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. Senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) and junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) were victorious in the final contest on-court, defeating Ryan McCarthy and Jakub Praibis 8-5 at No. 2 to give the Irish the initial point of the match. 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. After the Hoosiers got on the board, freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) then clinched the Notre Dame victory by prevailing over McCarthy 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 to deliver the Irish triumph.
IRISH vs. AGGIES: Texas A&M, ninth in the preseason Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings, comes to Notre Dame after sweeping a tripleheader on Monday to open the season. The Aggies topped Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (7-0), Texas-Pan American (6-1), and Trinity (6-0) at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. After making its trip to Notre Dame, A&M will head to #1 Illinois for a Saturday afternoon match. The Aggies return five starters from last season’s team that was 23-10 (4-3 Big 12), finished fourth in the Big 12 Conference, reached the round of 16 in the NCAA Championship, and finished the season ranked 11th nationally. Gone is All-American Ryan Newport, who finished 2002-03 ranked 18th in the nation in singles and 23rd in doubles. This season, A&M boasts the No. 1 doubles team in college tennis, Lester Cook and Ante Matijevic. The pair finished last season ranked eighth, advancing to the final 16 in the NCAA doubles tournament, and won the title in the ITA All-American Championships last fall, topping four top-10 opponents on the way. They are also both ranked among the top 20 singles players in the country, with Cook coming in at 17th and Matijevic 19th. Head coach Tim Cass is in his eighth season leading the Aggies, having compiled a 142-55 (.721) record. He holds a 269-141 (.656) overall mark in 15-plus seasons as a head coach.
Notre Dame and Texas A&M have met twice previously, both times on neutral courts, with each team coming out victorious once. The Irish took the initial meeting 5-4, but the Aggies won 5-1 in the ’99 Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic. This will be Texas A&M’s first-ever trip to Notre Dame.
IRISH vs. RED STORM: St. John’s will open its spring season this weekend in the Eck Tennis Pavilion with matches against Illinois State on Saturday at 5 p.m. (EST) and then Sunday vs. the Irish. The Red Storm return three starters from last year’s squad that was 10-8 and lost to Notre Dame in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship. Head coach Eric Rebhuhn is in his third season leading St. John’s, having compiled a 15-28 (.349) mark. He holds a 52-75 (.409) record in five years as a head coach.
Notre Dame and St. John’s will meet for the third time, but the first in the regular season. The Irish took 4-0 decisions in the 2000 BIG EAST Championship semifinals and the ’03 BIG EAST quarters. The Red Storm are one of just three BIG EAST teams on the 2004 Irish schedule, as the league does not require round robin play. Notre Dame will face Miami on Feb. 29 at home and will travel to Virginia Tech on April 4.
In 2003, the teams played in the opening round of the BIG EAST tournament in Coral Gables, Fla. Notre Dame won the first two doubles matches off the court and then got a 6-0, 6-0 victory from Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo at No. 5 to take a 2-0 lead. The final two points were a struggle for the Irish, as four of the other singles matches went to third sets. Eventually, Notre Dame got wins at No. 2 from Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) and No. 4 from Brian Farrell to move into the semifinals.
IRISH vs. REDBIRDS: Illinois State begins its spring schedule with three matches this weekend. The Redbirds will take on Eastern Illinois Friday night at home prior to heading to Notre Dame, where they will play St. John’s on Saturday at 5 p.m. (EST) before facing the Irish. Illinois State was 14-9 (7-1 MVC) a season ago, finishing third in the Missouri Valley Conference. Head coach Greg Kennett is in his fifth season leading the Redbirds, having compiled a 64-42 (.604) mark. In six-plus years as a head coach overall, he has a 99-51 (.660) record.
Notre Dame and Illinois State will meet for the first time since 1989. The teams have played 11 times previously, though four of those were exhibition matches. In official play, the Irish hold a 6-1 advantage in the series. The teams met four times in exhibition action in the Irish Fall Invitational (’76, ’79, ’84, ’85), with each side winning twice. The official series began in 1981 and saw seven matches in a nine-year span, with Illinois State’s lone victory coming in the final match of 1988, Bob Bayliss’ first season, by a 6-3 score in Normal, Ill. In the most recent between the teams, the Irish prevailed 6-0 at home in the final contest of the 1989 season.
IRISH vs. WILDCATS: Kentucky, 10th in the preseason ITA national rankings, will open its season with a home doubleheader on Thursday vs. Appalachian State and Morehead State. The Wildcats will then travel to Notre Dame to take on the Irish two days after the schools meet on the campus in men’s basketball. Kentucky returns five starters from last year’s team that was 19-12 (6-5 SEC), finished fourth in the Southeastern Conference, reached the second round of the NCAA tournament, and was 16th in the final national rankings. Despite the graduation of Karim Benmansour, who finished 2002-03 ranked 105th in singles, the Wildcats enter the spring with four players carrying national rankings in singles. Junior Jesse Witten has been among the nation’s top 20 players since vaulting into the top 10 following his first collegiate semester. He was last season’s preseason national No. 1 after a runner-up finish in the 2002 NCAA Singles Championship. Witten finished 2002-03 at 14th, was ninth prior to this season and now stands 16th. Following him is junior Tigran Martirosyan, a transfer from Loyola Marymount, at 58th, junior Evan Austin at 81st, and sophomore Penn State transfer Nate Emge at 100th. Head coach Dennis Emery is in his 22nd season leading the Wildcats, having posted a 387-242 (.615) mark. In 26 seasons as a head coach, he holds a 474-208 (.695) record.
Notre Dame and Kentucky will meet for the 12th consecutive season and 24th time overall, with the Irish holding a 12-10-1 advantage in a series that began in 1928 with a 3-0 Notre Dame triumph. Kentucky has an 8-5 edge in the most recent incarnation of the series, having won the last two matches and six of the last eight. Notre Dame has won three of the five contests at home in the Bayliss era. The teams also met once in exhibition play, with the Wildcats prevailing 6-1 in the 1984 Irish Fall Invitational.
Kentucky, ranked 12th at the time of the match, prevailed 5-2 in 2003 in Lexington. The Wildcats got an 8-6 victory from Austin and Alex Hume over Ben Hatten (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill H.S.) and Paul McNaughton at No. 3 doubles in the last match on-court to secure the initial point of the contest. Kentucky then won each of the top four singles matches, though the clinching tilt, Rahim Esmail topping Brian Farrell at No. 4, went three sets.
OPENING DAY NOTES: There were a number of notable things about Notre Dame’s 6-1 victory over Indiana on Saturday. A variety of them are listed below:
* Notre Dame improved to 7-2 in season openers over the last nine seasons.
* Notre Dame improved to 7-1 in its last eight matches in Bloomington.
* Notre Dame used three freshmen in its lineup — Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) at No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles, Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) at No. 5 singles, and Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) at No. 1 doubles. Keckley was slated to also play No. 6 singles, but he suffered a leg injury in doubles action.
* Bass clinched the Notre Dame victory by prevailing over Ryan McCarthy 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 at No. 4. After the Irish freshman 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 Bass battled back to win three straight games to secure the Notre Dame victory.
* Senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) won in straight sets at No. 2 singles after having not played a complete set — even in practice — since the Oct. 23-28 ITA Midwest Championships. Scott was bothered by a stress fracture in his right foot for much of the fall and stopped playing to rehabilitate it in October.
* Junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) won in three sets at No. 3 singles in his first collegiate singles match since undergoing elbow surgery in June. He saw limited doubles action in the fall.
* Sophomore Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.), playing for the injured Keckley, gained his first career singles win in dual-match play with a three-set triumph at No. 6. Langenkamp was winless in six dual-match appearances as a freshman.
* Senior Paul Hidaka (Tokyo, Japan/St. Mary’s International School) made his dual-match debut, at No. 3 doubles.
ITA RANKINGS: Notre Dame is 49th among the 75 teams ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) preseason rankings after finishing 2003 ranked 54th. It is the lowest preseason ranking for Notre Dame since the ITA started listing more than 25 teams. It also marks just the second time since 1990-91 that the Irish have started the spring not ranked among the top 30.
Senior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) led the Irish in the individual rankings, at 18th in doubles. Keckley is just the second freshman in Irish history earn a national doubles ranking, joining five-time All-American David DiLucia (’92), who finished his first season ranked 31st after peaking at 12th. Senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) jumped into the singles rankings at 68th. Junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) was one of 14 players who were listed in the preseason singles rankings, but did not play in the fall and thus had “insufficient data” to garner a ranking in this listing.
In the Midwest Region singles rankings released at the end of the fall season, Haddock was 10th, Scott 12th, and freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) 23rd. In doubles, Haddock and Keckley were second, while Scott and D’Amico were 12th.
TOP-10 TILTS: Friday begins a 10-day and five-match stretch that will see the Irish take on three teams ranked in the top 10 of the ITA preseason rankings. Notre Dame will face #9 Texas A&M on Friday prior to playing host to #10 Kentucky on Tuesday and traveling to #8 Duke on Sunday, Feb. 1. In 2003, Notre Dame faced just two top-10 teams all season.
START ME UP AT HOME: Notre Dame has a 12-4 record in home openers under Bob Bayliss.The Irish had won seven consecutive home openers prior to a 4-3 loss to Indiana a season ago.
KECKLEY’S RARE FRESHMAN DOUBLES RANKING: Local product Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) became just the second Irish freshman in school history to earn a national doubles ranking when he and senior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) were 18th in the preseason ITA listing. Five-time All-American David DiLucia (’92) was ranked as high as 12th during his first collegiate campaign, 1988-89, before finishing 31st, along with Mike Wallace.
BAYLISS NEARING MILESTONE: Notre Dame head coach Bob Bayliss enters this weekend with a 295-140 (.678) record in his 16 years leading the Irish program. He is five wins away from becoming the second coach in school history to register 300 victories. Bayliss’ predecessor, Tom Fallon, had a 514-194 (.726) record in 31 years coaching the Irish.
HOME IS WHERE THE MATCHES ARE: The Eck Tennis Pavilion will be busy during the early portion of the season, as all 10 of Notre Dame’s home matches will come before spring break. The Irish will be on the road just four times prior to their final home match on March 2 vs. Michigan State. Notre Dame will spend the remainder of the season — nearly three months — away from home.
IRISH FACE TOUGH SLATE: The road to the 2004 NCAA Championship will be challenging for Notre Dame. Of the 19 dual-match opponents the Irish will face this season, 15 of them are among the top 65 in the preseason ITA rankings and nine earned berths to last year’s NCAA tournament. Highlighting Notre Dame’s schedule are four matches with top 10 foes — vs. #9 Texas A&M (Jan. 23), vs. #10 Kentucky (Jan. 27), at #8 Duke (Feb. 1), and at defending NCAA champion #1 Illinois (Feb. 26). In addition to the 19 scheduled matches, the Irish will compete in the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic, in which Notre Dame has faced at least one top-25 team in 12 of the last 13 years.
BRING ON THE BEST: Notre Dame will get a shot at the preseason national No. 1s in both singles and doubles this spring. Ohio State’s Jeremy Wurtzman (OSU at ND, Feb. 28) is the top-ranked singles player, while Lester Cook and Ante Matijevic of Texas A&M (A&M at ND, Jan. 23) sit atop the doubles listing. The Irish also will see the nation’s No. 2 doubles team, Jason Zimmerman and Ludovic Walter of Duke (ND at Duke, Feb. 1), highlighting a total of five top-20 singles players (also #7 Walter, #16 Jesse Witten of Kentucky, and #17 Cook and #19 Matijevic) and five top-20 doubles pairs (also #8 David Hippee/Alexander Kasarov of Wisconsin, #14 Michael Calkins/Chris Martin of Illinois, and #15 Jeff Groslimond/Chris Westerhof of Florida State) on the dual-match schedule. In all, nine doubles teams and 16 singles players in the rankings are on the 2004 Irish schedule, as are four players who were ranked in the preseason singles rankings, but did not play in the fall and had “insufficient data” for listing in the most recent set.
FALL HIGHLIGHTS: Notre Dame played in four tournaments and one exhibition match in the fall portion of its schedule. Senior Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) provided the highlight with a run to the doubles final of the ITA Midwest Championships. The pair was 7-2 in fall action. Overall, Haddock was 9-3 and Keckley 8-3 in doubles. Keckley also won his first six collegiate singles matches. Senior Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) was 10-4 in singles play, including three wins over top-65 players and a runner-up finish in the adidas Invitational. Sophomore Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) was 9-2 in singles, while freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) was 6-2 in singles and 5-1 in doubles. His brother, Jimmy Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School), was 5-1 in singles, while sophomore Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) was 7-3.
WINTER WINS: Junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) and sophomore Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) posted good results in non-collegiate tournaments over Notre Dame’s winter break. D’Amico registered a runner-up doubles finish in the Georgia Tech Holiday Tennis Challenge that featured a number of top professional players, while Langenkamp won a bronze ball for a semifinal appearance in the National Open Championships at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, N.Y.
D’Amico and partner Brad Friedman, a 2003 graduate of Alabama, upset the tournament’s fourth seed, former Alabama All-American Francisco Rodriguez and former West Virginia All-American Paul Mencini 6-4, 7-6 (10-8), 6-2 to reach a semifinal match with the top-seeded team of Robby Ginepri and Bobby Reynolds. Ginepri is ranked 32nd in the world in singles and Reynolds is a former national No. 1 in singles at Vanderbilt, but the pair withdrew due to injury. After the walkover, D’Amico and Friedman lost to Georgia Tech head coach Kenny Thorne and T.J. Middleton 6-2, 7-6. D’Amico lost in the second round in singles to third-seeded Rodriguez, who eventually fell to Reynolds in the final. Among the other top players in the field was former Virginia All-American Brian Vahaly, now ranked 75th in the world in singles.
After reaching the final of the 2002 event, Langenkamp was the ninth seed in the ’03 National Open. He delivered three-set upsets of the No. 5 seed, Colgate’s Reed Hagmann, (6-4, 4-6, 6-1) and top-seeded Kyle Kliegerman of Princeton (6-7, 6-4, 6-3) before falling to fourth-seeded Erik Scharf of St. John’s in the semifinals.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Bob Bayliss is in his 17th year at Notre Dame with a 295-140 (.677) record and his 35th year as a collegiate head coach with a 577-234 (.711) mark. He ranks fifth among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories and has had just one losing season in his career. Bayliss’ Irish have finished in the top 20 nine times in the past 14 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 eight 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.
CHANGE — NOTHING STAYS THE SAME: A pair of home matches have been rescheduled for different dates and four remaining road contests have had their start times adjusted from what was initially published. The Irish contest with Wisconsin has been moved forward one day and now will be played on Sunday, Feb. 15 at Noon (EST), while Notre Dame will welcome SMU not in April, as originally scheduled, but on Sunday, Feb. 22 at Noon (EST). One home match and three road tilts have had their start times changed. Both the Saturday, Feb. 21 contest at Northwestern and the Thursday, Feb. 26 match at defending national champion Illinois will now start at 4 p.m. (CST). The initial contest was scheduled for three hours earlier and the latter was supposed to be an hour later. Matches against Notre Dame’s top two BIG EAST rivals both had their start times moved up an hour to Noon. Those contests are the Sunday, Feb. 29 match at home vs. Miami and the Sunday, April 4 tilt at Virginia Tech. The date changes mean that the entire 10-match home schedule for Notre Dame will take place in the Eck Tennis Pavilion and within the first 14 contests of the spring, concluding on Tuesday, March 2 vs. Michigan State. The Irish will then play the final three months of the season away from home.
IRISH LAND TWO RECRUITS FOR NEXT SEASON: Bob Bayliss recently announced the signing of two incoming freshmen for the 2004-05 school year, both of whom are among the top 30 American high school seniors. Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) and Andrew Roth (Houston, Texas/The Tenney School) have signed national letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame next year and join the Irish tennis team. Parbhu is ranked 57th in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Boys’ 18-and-under national rankings and is 30th among high school seniors. Last season, he won the Nebraska state singles championship. Roth is 33rd in the latest USTA 18s rankings and is 19th among players who will begin college in the fall. He is the current 18-and-under champion of the Texas section of the USTA and was the No. 1 player on the Texas Junior Davis Cup team.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org, or Eileen Carroll at email@example.com, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.