Feb. 15, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 50th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (5-2) 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.
Notre Dame head coach Bob Bayliss made two changes in his singles lineup and juggled his doubles combinations for Saturday’s match, with mixed results. In singles, Bayliss flipped his Nos. 1 and 2 players, as well as his Nos. 3 and 4 competitors, and three of the four players were victorious. With doubles teams that had not played together this spring at each of the top two spots, Notre Dame got a win and a loss en route to dropping the doubles point.
Senior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) played in just his second career match at No. 2 singles — and first in nearly three years — after playing at No. 1 in every dual-match appearance this spring and last season. He responded with a 6-3, 6-1 win over David Hippee to give Notre Dame its first point of the match.
Senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris), ranked 68th nationally in singles, was Notre Dame’s lone loser in singles, falling 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 1-0 (10-5) to Alexander Kasarov of Bulgaria at No. 1. Scott is 14-7 this season, with three of his defeats — and nine of 33 in his career — coming in match tiebreakers. Scott played No. 1 for the first time in his career last Sunday when Haddock was playing for his native Puerto Rico in the Davis Cup.
Freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) shifted up a spot to No. 3 singles, beating Alex Conti 6-3, 6-2 to improve to 11-4 this season.
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.
Sophomore Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) continued his torrid play, surrendering just a pair of games in beating Lachezar Kasarov of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-2 at No. 6. After consecutive 6-0, 6-1 wins in his last two matches, Langenkamp has lost a total of just four games in each of his last three matches. On the season, he has held his opponents to four games or fewer on nine occasions and has won the first set 6-0 five times.
Langenkamp is 15-2 overall and 6-0 this spring, having won 11 consecutive sets, dating back to a 6-4 defeat in the middle set of his No. 6 match against Indiana in the dual-match opener. He is 8-1 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion and 8-1 against Midwest Region opponents this season. Langenkamp is 14-0 in 2003-04 when winning the opening set and is 22-1 in his career when taking the initial frame, with one match abandoned.
Freshman Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) improved to 4-0 in three-set matches this season, rallying for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 triumph over Ward Bortz at No. 5. He has rallied from dropping the initial set for a victory three times en route to a 9-5 record (5-2 in dual matches) this season.
Despite the lineup shift, the Irish dropped the doubles point for the fourth time in six matches this spring (doubles was not played against St. John’s). After Notre Dame easily won the first doubles match off the court, the point came down to tiebreakers in each of the other two contests. D’Amico and freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) nearly pulled of an upset of the No. 8 team in college tennis, Hippee and Alexander Kasarov. The Irish team was up a service break at 6-3 in the No. 1 match before the Badger duo won four consecutive games to take a 7-6 lead. Notre Dame broke serve and the match eventually went into a tiebreaker, which was won by Hippee and Kasarov, 7-4.
In the final remaining match, Bortz and Lachezar Kasarov finally converted on their sixth match point to beat Langenkamp and senior Paul Hidaka (Tokyo, Japan/St. Mary’s International School). The Badgers broke serve at 6-6 and had four match points serving for the contest at 7-6, but eventually the Irish team broke serve to even the match. With Kasarov serving at 7-8 to get to a tiebreaker, Hidaka and Langenkamp had a match point, but Wisconsin saved it and forced a ‘breaker. Bortz and Kasarov won the first four points en route to a 7-4 victory to give the Badgers a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the first match off the court, Haddock and Scott posted an 8-1 win over Conti and Green at No. 2. The Irish seniors are 4-0 this season and 10-2 as a team in their careers.
Keckley, who did not play at all last Sunday vs. Purdue, returned to the Irish doubles lineup, but did not play singles. Slated to play No. 6 for the Irish at the beginning of the spring, he suffered a sprained ankle in the doubles portion of the opener vs. Indiana, which caused him to not play singles in the first four contests. Upon his return against Duke, Keckley sprained his other ankle, which sidelined him again.
The Irish have won each of their last 13 matches against Wisconsin, dating back to 1991.
Notre Dame will return to action next weekend with a pair of matches against higher-ranked teams. The Irish will be at #37 Northwestern Saturday at 4 p.m. (EST) prior to welcoming #40 Southern Methodist on Sunday for a Noon (EST) contest.
#50 Notre Dame 5, Wisconsin 2
No. 1: Alexander Kasarov (W) d. #68 Matthew Scott (ND) 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 1-0 (10-5)
No. 2: Luis Haddock (ND) d. David Hippee (W) 6-3, 6-1
No. 3: Stephen Bass (ND) d. Alex Conti (W) 6-3, 6-2
No. 4: *Brent D’Amico (ND) d. Scott Green (W) 6-4, 6-4
No. 5: Barry King (ND) d. Ward Bortz (W) 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
No. 6: Eric Langenkamp (ND) d. Lachezar Kasarov (W) 6-0, 6-2
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 6, 4*, 5, 1
No. 1: #8 Hippee/A. Kasarov (W) d. D’Amico/Ryan Keckley (ND) 9-8 (7-4)
No. 2: Haddock/Scott (ND) d. Conti/Green (W) 8-1
No. 3: *Bortz/L. Kasarov (W) d. Paul Hidaka/Langenkamp (ND) 9-8 (7-4)
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3*
* denotes clinching match