April 25, 2003
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (9-12) moved into the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship by shutting out sixth-seeded St. John’s (10-8) 4-0 Friday afternoon at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. The third-seeded and 54th-ranked Irish dominated the doubles matches and then won each of the first three singles matches completed to continue their dominance in early-round action in the conference tournament, moving to 13-0 – with every match being a 4-0 win – in non-title matches. Notre Dame will next face the No. 2 seed, #41 Virginia Tech, on Saturday at Noon (EDT) in attempting to reach the championship match for the eighth consecutive season. The Irish beat the Hokies 5-2 on March 23 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Notre Dame’s doubles teams were outstanding, taking the initial point of the contest for the second straight match. First off the court were junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) and sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School), who took just 24 minutes to complete an 8-0 victory at No. 1. The Irish pair has won three in a row, dropping just five combined games in those matches. The shutout was the first for a Notre Dame team since Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and Aaron Talarico beat Michigan’s Anthony Jackson and Matt Lockin 8-0 in the 2001 Tom Fallon Invitational.
A pair of Irish captains, Haddock and senior Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.), clinched the doubles point with an 8-3 win at No. 2. The win was the first for the pair since March 23, snapping a five-match skid. Junior Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (Guaynabo, P.R./Colegio Marista) and sophomore Paul McNaughton (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) were just three points from victory, up 7-3, when the No. 3 match was abandoned due to the doubles point having been decided.
Lopez-Acevedo and Scott continued their dominance in singles, registering straight-set victories to put the Irish within a point of victory. The Puerto Rican was the first off the court, defeating freshman Nick Stocker 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5 in just 42 minutes. Seven minutes later, Scott finished his 6-2, 6-0 win over Arnaud Agniel at No. 2.
Lopez-Acevedo has won four of his last five and is 10-7 this spring. His win was the first 6-0, 6-0 victory for an Irish player in dual-match action since Andrew Laflin beat Brook Deming of Rutgers at No. 6 in last year’s BIG EAST semifinals. It was the first time overall a Notre Dame competitor blanked an opponent since last fall’s Tom Fallon Invitational, when T Moss beat Maryland’s Greg Chambers 6-0, 6-0. Scott also has a 10-7 record this spring. In singles and doubles play combined, he won 20 of 22 games played on Friday.
After being two games away from finishing the match in straight sets, Farrell finally clinched the victory with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over Morgan Bauer at No. 3. The Irish senior led 4-1 in the second set before Bauer rallied to win five consecutive games and force a deciding set. Farrell broke a streak of three straight losses in three-set matches and had been 1-5 in three-setters this season prior to Friday.
The three remaining matches were abandoned after Farrell’s victory, though each was quite competitive. At No. 6, Irish freshman Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) won the first set in a tiebreaker and was tied, 5-5, with Boris Chiporukha when his match was abandoned. The Nos. 1 and 3 contests were both on-serve early in third sets. Haddock, who rallied from losing the first set to Rick Ferreira to force a decisive frame, still has never completed a singles match in BIG EAST Championship action, having all five of his career contests abandoned prior to completion.
Friday marked just the second-ever meeting between the Irish and Red Storm. In the only prior matchup, Notre Dame won 4-0 in the 2000 BIG EAST semifinals.
The last time Notre Dame and Virginia Tech played, the doubles point was decided in the final match on-court and the final outcome was determined by four three-set contests. Farrell and Haddock beat Angel Diankov and Grant Reynolds 8-6 at No. 2 to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. In singles, D’Amico posted a straight-set win at No. 2 over Andreas Laulund, now ranked 77th, and VT’s Stephane Rod beat Lopez-Acevedo in two sets at No. 4. In the three-setters, Haddock beat Francis Huot at No. 1, Farrell upset then-#64 Saber Kadiri at No. 3, Buchanan topped Michael Kurz at No. 5, and Diankov beat Irish sophomore Jimmy Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) at No. 6. Notre Dame was without Scott for that match, after he was stricken by illness the day before.
Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1996, the Irish have had tremendous success in the league tournament, posting a 16-4 record and advancing to the championship match against Miami each of the last seven years. Fourteen of the 20 contests were 4-0 Irish victories, excluding only the title matches from 1997-2002. Notre Dame, which won championships in 1996, ’99, and 2002, earned its lowest-ever seed this season and played on the opening day of the tournament for the first time. Excluding Miami, the Irish are 26-3 all-time against BIG EAST teams.
In Saturday’s other semifinal match, top-seeded and 29th-ranked Miami will take on the No. 4 seed, Rutgers, at 9:00 a.m. (EDT). The Scarlet Knights beat fifth-seeded Boston College on Friday in the tournament’s first round.
#54 Notre Dame 4, St. John’s 0
No. 1: Rick Ferreira (SJU) vs. #106 Luis Haddock (ND) 6-4, 2-6, 3-2, abandoned
No. 2: Matthew Scott (ND) d. Arnaud Agniel (SJU) 6-2, 6-0
No. 3: Jake Maxwell (SJU) vs. Brent D’Amico (ND) 1-6, 6-0, 2-1, abandoned
No. 4: Brian Farrell (ND) d. Morgan Bauer (SJU) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
No. 5: Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (ND) d. Nick Stocker (SJU) 6-0, 6-0
No. 6: Patrick Buchanan (ND) vs. Boris Chiporukha (SJU) 7-6 (7-2), 5-5, abandoned
No. 1: D’Amico/Scott (ND) d. Agniel/Maxell (SJU) 8-0
No. 2: Farrell/Haddock (ND) d. Bauer/Chiporukha (SJU) 8-3
No. 3: Lopez-Acevedo/Paul McNaughton (ND) d. Ferreira/Stocker (SJU) 7-3, abandoned