March 13, 2004
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The 44th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (10-7) won five of the six first sets in singles and jumped out to a 3-1 lead before #27 Mississippi State (7-3) rallied for a 4-3 victory Saturday afternoon in consolation play of the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic at the Lagoon Park Tennis Center. The match, which lasted four hours and 40 minutes, was 3-3 with just the No. 2 singles contest remaining on the court. Bulldog Jose-Carlos Pinto of Brazil clinched the win by completing a come-from-behind, three-set win over Irish senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris).
Scott took the first set 7-5 before Pinto won the second 6-2. In the decisive frame, the Irish senior jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the MSU sophomore won five games in a row. Scott battled back to within 5-4, but eventually succumbed on Pinto’s fourth match point.
After dropping the doubles point, the Irish came out strong in singles, losing the first set only at No. 3. Senior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) evened the match with an upset victory against #13 Romain Ambert at No. 1. Haddock took the first set 6-2 before the Frenchman, who has been ranked as high as third in the nation during his career, retired due to a nagging ankle injury. After not registering a ranked victory previously this season, Haddock had a pair in the Blue/Gray Classic, also topping #51 Greg Shearer of Fresno State 6-1, 6-1 on Thursday. The Irish senior was up a set and a service break — 6-4, 3-2 — against #84 Pedro Nieto of VCU on Friday before the match was abandoned. Haddock is 16-9 this season, including 8-4 in dual matches at No. 1. He has won six of his last seven matches. The win was the 14th of Haddock’s career over a ranked opponent.
Ambert was the highest-ranked player to lose to a Notre Dame competitor since May 18, 2002, when Javier Taborga beat #12 Amer Delic of Illinois 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 at No. 1 in the round of 16 of the NCAA team championship.
Freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) gave Notre Dame the lead with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Max Fomine of Moldavia at No. 4. Bass has won eight of his last 10 matches to stand 18-6 this season, including 12-4 in dual matches. Fomine had a seven-match winning streak snapped.
Freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) put the Irish within a point of victory with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph at No. 6 against Arnaud Roussel of France.
Brazilian Luiz Carvalho was the first Bulldog to be victorious in singles, defeating junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]) 6-3, 6-2 at No. 3.
Florent Girod of France then tied the match at 3-3 by rallying for a 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 6-3 win over freshman Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) at No. 5.
The doubles point came down to the No. 1 match, where Carvalho and Pinto registered an 8-5 win over the 44th-ranked pair of D’Amico and Keckley in the final match on-court.
Notre Dame got a win from Bass and sophomore Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) at No. 3. They registered and 8-4 decision against Fomine and Matt Armstrong to improve to 6-1 on the season.
The No. 2 match was on serve at 7-6, but the pair of Ambert and Girod, ranked 49th, broke Haddock’s serve to register the win over him and Scott, ranked 29th. Girod and Ambert are 13-5 this season and have won nine in a row.
Notre Dame is 2-7 over the past two seasons in matches that are tied 3-3.
The Irish will return to action on Tuesday, March 23, traveling to #48 Michigan for a 4 p.m. (EST) contest.
#27 Mississippi State 4, #44 Notre Dame 3
No. 1: Luis Haddock (ND) d. #13 Romain Ambert (MSU) 6-2, ret.
No. 2: !Jose-Carlos Pinto (MSU) d. Matthew Scott (ND) 5-7, 6-2, 6-4
No. 3: Luiz Carvalho (MSU) d. Brent D’Amico (ND) 6-3, 6-2
No. 4: Stephen Bass (ND) d. Max Fomine (MSU) 6-2, 6-2
No. 5: Florent Girod (MSU) d. Barry King (ND) 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 6-3
No. 6: Ryan Keckley (ND) d. Arnaud Roussel (MSU) 6-3, 6-3
Order of Finish: 1, 4, 6, 3, 5, 2!
No. 1: !Carvalho/Pinto (MSU) d. #44 D’Amico/Keckley (ND) 8-5
No. 2: Girod/Ambert (MSU) d. #29 Haddock/Scott (ND) 8-6
No. 3: S. Bass/Langenkamp (ND) d. Armstrong/Fomine (MSU) 8-4
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1!
* denotes clinching win; ! denotes clinching win in final match on-court