Jan. 16, 2004
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team, 49th in the preseason national rankings, will open its spring season this weekend, traveling to #51 Indiana on Saturday for a Noon (EST) match in the IU Tennis Center. The Hoosiers have won three of the last four matches in the series, but Notre Dame has taken six of the last seven in Bloomington. Notre Dame returns six monogram winners, including its top three players, from last year’s team that finished 10-12 and 54th in the nation.
IRISH vs. HOOSIERS: Indiana will open its season on Saturday. The Hoosiers return four letterwinners, including two starters from last year’s squad that was 12-11 (3-7 Big Ten) and finished the season ranked 44th. Indiana is led by junior Jakub Praibis, who was ranked 70th in the preseason national singles rankings before missing the fall due to injuries caused him to be unranked in the most recent rankings. Head coach Ken Hydinger is in his 20th season at the helm of the IU program, having compiled a 251-190-1 (.569). In his 24th year as a head coach, he holds a 317-235-1 (.574) career record. Hydinger was on administrative leave last spring, so associate head coach Matthew Pledger led the Hoosiers.
The Hoosiers are the third-most common opponent in the 81-year history of the Irish men’s tennis program. The teams have faced off in each of the last 16 seasons and will meet for the 65th time overall on Friday (second only to the 72 meetings with Michigan State and Northwestern). Notre Dame leads the all-time series 37-27. The Hoosiers were Notre Dame’s opponent in its first-ever varsity men’s tennis match in 1923 — a 6-0 Indiana win even though the Hoosier program would not attain varsity status until 1930. In the Bayliss era, the Irish hold a 10-5 advantage, including an eight-match winning streak from 1992-99 and a 6-1 record in Bloomington. Indiana has won three of the last four. This is the fifth time in the last eight years that both teams are ranked at the time of the match.
Last season, Indiana upset the 27th-ranked Irish 4-3 in the season opener on Jan. 24, 2003, in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The match was tied 3-3 with the No. 4 singles tilt in a third set. Hoosier Zach Held pulled out a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Brian Farrell to secure the victory for Indiana. The Hoosiers also got wins at Nos. 2, 5, and 6 singles, with the latter also coming in three sets. Notre Dame swept the doubles and won in straight sets at Nos. 1 and 3 singles.
MEN’S TENNIS “GOLD GAME” SET FOR NEXT FRIDAY vs. TEXAS A&M: The home opener for the Irish, slated for 4 p.m. (EST) next Thursday in the Eck Tennis Pavilion, has been designated as this season’s men’s tennis “Gold Game,” a distinction created by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council to encourage the entire Notre Dame community to attend particular contests. The match will feature the first-ever visit by Texas A&M to Notre Dame. The Aggies are ninth in the preseason national rankings and boast the nation’s No. 1 doubles team, Lester Cook and Ante Matijevic. Those two are also ranked 17th and 19th, respectively, in singles. The teams have split two previous meetings, with both coming on neutral courts.
ITA RANKINGS: Notre Dame enters the 2004 season 49th among the 75 teams ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) 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.
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.
START ME UP: Notre Dame has won six of its last eight season-opening matches and has started 1-0 in each of the last five seasons in which the first dual match was on the opponent’s home court. This will be the first time in six years that the Irish open their dual-match season playing on their foe’s home court. Notre Dame has dropped its initial road match in each of the last two seasons. In his time at Notre Dame, Bob Bayliss’ teams are 9-7 in season-opening matches and 11-5 in road openers.
BAYLISS NEARING MILESTONE: Notre Dame head coach Bob Bayliss enters this season with a 294-140 (.677) record in his 16 years leading the Irish program. He is six 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.
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.
TAKING A SHOT AT 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.
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 294-140 (.677) record and his 35th year as a collegiate head coach with a 576-234 (.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 five 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 four road tilts have had their start times changed. The season opener on Saturday at Indiana had its start time moved up an hour to Noon (EST). 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.