April 13, 2005
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Buckeyes sophomore Devin Mullings outlasted Irish sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) in a marathon two-set match in the final contest remaining to give #30 Ohio State (14-7) a 4-3 victory over #29 Notre Dame (16-7) Wednesday afternoon in men’s tennis action at the Stickney Tennis Center. The Irish, who were without senior co-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]) – who usually plays No. 3 – in singles, prevailed in a trio of three-set affairs, but eventually fell in their final regular-season match.
After it appeared as though it would be an improbable task, Ohio State rallied to win the doubles point, and the Buckeyes ended up taking a trio of straight-set matches in singles, though the contests at the top two positions were extremely close. Notre Dame got three-set victories in singles from juniors Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) and Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and freshman Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.).
At the No. 2 position, Mullings, who is ranked 52nd in the nation in singles, defeated King 7-5, 7-5 in a match that lasted over three hours to finally give Ohio State the victory, its second by a 4-3 count against the Irish in as many years. In 2004, Mullings – a native of the Bahamas – topped King 6-2, 7-5 at No. 4. It was the third time this season that King was on the court in that situation, after he delivered victories for Notre Dame against both William & Mary and Rice.
A hamstring injury kept D’Amico from playing singles on April 3 at SMU, when the Irish lost 5-2. He returned to action last weekend against Ball State, but then reinjured it this week, which precluded him from playing on Wednesday.
With his team trailing 2-0, Buchanan was the first Notre Dame player to finish victorious. He defeated Dennis Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 at No. 5. It was the second victory this season for Buchanan over the Belgian junior, as he registered a 6-4, 6-4 triumph against Mertens in the opening round of the main draw of last fall’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Championships. He is 4-0 against Buckeyes competitors this season. Buchanan is 28-9 overall and 12-7 in dual-match action. He has won three consecutive three-set affairs and is 6-2 on the season in them.
Parbhu delayed the defeat, beating Chris Klingemann 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 at No. 3 to make the score 3-2. The Irish rookie remained perfect in three matches this season at No. 3 and became the first Notre Dame player in three seasons to reach the 30-victory plateau in singles. Parbhu stands 30-7 in his first campaign, including 18-3 in dual matches. He has won four straight overall and is 12-2 against the Midwest Region and 5-2 in three-set contests. Parbhu has been outstanding in tight contests, going 10-2 in close matches. The last Irish player to register 30 singles victories in a season was Matthew Scott, who finished the 2001-02 campaign with a 32-5 mark.
Langenkamp remained perfect in six dual-match singles appearances this season and tied the team score at 3-3 by topping Ross Wilson 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 at No. 6. He has now won 10 consecutive dual-match singles contests, dating back to last season and is 14-4 overall in 2004-05. Langenkamp dropped a set for the first time this spring, but came back to win the match after losing the opening frame for the second time this season and fifth time in his career. He also moved to 9-2 in outdoor play in 2004-05 and 7-2 against regional opponents. Langenkamp is 6-1 in close matches.
All seven of Notre Dame’s defeats this season have been either by 4-3 scores (four), against top-10 teams (three), or when the Irish were shorthanded due to injuries (two), or a combination of those factors.
The Buckeyes ended up prevailing in the top two doubles positions to take the match’s initial point, but Notre Dame had chances to win the doubles point. The Irish held a 7-1 lead before watching OSU run off eight straight games to win at No. 2, while the No. 3 match was abandoned with the Buckeyes ahead 8-7.
The pivotal match was the middle one, where Klingemann and Mullings pulled off the improbable rally, coming back to beat King and sophomore Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind/St. Joseph H.S.) 9-7. The Irish duo had been 4-0 since first being paired together last month.
At No. 3, it was Joey Atas and Drew Eberly of Ohio State who were up 8-7 against Parbhu and sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School).
D’Amico and Langenkamp faced a stiff challenge at No. 1, taking on the nation’s #1-ranked doubles team, Wilson and Scott Green. The Buckeyes triumphed by an 8-2 score, setting the stage for the No. 2 heroics.
First off the court in singles was Green, who beat sophomore Irackli Akhvlediani (Vienna, Austria/Vienna International School) 6-2, 6-4 at No. 4.
Atas, who is ranked 53rd nationally, edged Bass 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) at No. 1 to make the score 3-1. It was the third time this season that the players hooked up, with the Buckeye winning 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 in the Wolverine Invitational in October, but Bass earning a 6-2, 6-2 victory a week later in the quarterfinals of the ITA Midwest Championships.
Notre Dame will return to action next week in the BIG EAST Conference Championship, slated for Thursday-Saturday, April 21-23, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The Irish, who as the only nationally-ranked team and only BIG EAST squad with a record above .500 are expected to be the tournament’s top seed, will be carrying a six-match winning streak in the tournament, dating back to 2001. Notre Dame won conference championships in both 2002 and ’04 and reached the final in ’03 before the title match was rained out. The full six-team field and pairings will be announced early next week by the league.
#30 Ohio State 4, #29 Notre Dame 3
No. 1: #53 Joey Atas (OSU) def. Stephen Bass (ND) 7-5, 7-6 (7-4)
No. 2: #52 Devin Mullings (OSU) d. #113 Barry King (ND) 7-5, 7-5
No. 3: Sheeva Parbhu (ND) d. Chris Klingemann (OSU) 6-2, 4-6, 6-0
No. 4: Scott Green (OSU) d. Irackli Akhvlediani (ND) 6-2, 6-4
No. 5: Patrick Buchanan (ND) def. Dennis Mertens (OSU) 6-3, 1-6, 6-1
No. 6: Eric Langenkamp (ND) def. Ross Wilson (OSU) 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4
Order of Finish: 4, 5, 1, 3, 6, 2*
No. 1: #1 Green/Wilson (OSU) def. Brent D’Amico/Langenkamp (ND) 8-2
No. 2: Klingemann/Mullings (OSU) def. Ryan Keckley/King (ND) 9-7
No. 3: Atas/Drew Eberly (OSU) led S. Bass/Parbhu (ND) 8-7, abandoned
Order of Finish: 1, 2*