Junior Sheeva Parbhu.

Notre Dame Drops Another 4-3 Decision, This Time At #9 Duke

Feb. 5, 2006

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke senior Ludovic Walter of France rallied from being down a service break in the third set to outlast Notre Dame junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) in the final match remaining to hand the ninth-ranked Blue Devils (2-1) a 4-3 victory over the Irish men’s tennis team (2-3) Sunday afternoon in the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center. It was the third time in 10 days that Notre Dame dropped a 4-3 decision decided by multiple three-set affairs to a top-30 team, as the Irish also nearly upset #1 Virginia last weekend and then fell to #30 North Carolina on Saturday.

In the decisive match, Bass – ranked eighth nationally – broke serve in the fifth game of the final set to go up 3-2, but the Frenchman responded by winning four consecutive games to take the match, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Walter, ranked ninth in the country, improved to 5-0 in his career against Notre Dame players, while Bass lost a three-set affair in the decisive match for the third time in as many Irish defeats this season. The ND junior is 15-4 on the season, with all of his defeats coming against top-10 players.

“The effort was there,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss. “We were serving at 3-2 with a service break in the third set of the deciding match, so we know we are playing at the same level as the top 10 teams in the country. But there is a difference between being right there and sealing the deal. We must get over the hump.”

Duke held a 3-1 advantage with three matches remaining on the court, all in third sets. Irish sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) rallied to prevail against senior Jonathan Stokke at No. 2, delivering a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 triumph in a battle of top-20 players. Parbhu, ranked 14th, moved his record to 15-3 this season, including 5-1 in three-set affairs and 4-1 this spring at No. 2. He also is 6-1 against nationally-ranked opponents, with his lone defeat coming in the fall against Bass. Stokke is ranked 20th in the nation and entered the match with a 16-7 mark.

Junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) tied the score at 3-3 with a 7-6, 3-6, 6-0 victory against freshman Kiril Dimitrov from Bulgaria at No. 5. The St. Joseph’s High School graduate continued to make No. 5 Notre Dame’s most-consistent point this dual-match season. He is now 5-0 this spring after being just 11-8 in dual singles play during his first two seasons. Keckley is 7-1 overall in 2005-06.

Notre Dame won the doubles point with victories at Nos. 1 and 3. First off the court was the team of Keckley and junior Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College), who continued to be a force at the top spot by winning 8-2 over Stokke and Stephen Amritraj. The Irish duo – which knocked off the #1-ranked team in college tennis on Saturday – now stands 9-2 together during their careers, including 3-1 this season.

Senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and sophomore Andrew Roth (Houston, Texas/Tenney School) – teaming together for the first time – provided the clinching victory in doubles by beating Peter Rodrigues of Portugal and Ned Samuelson 8-5 at No. 3. It was the dual-match debut for Roth, who is now 5-1 in doubles this season. Duke avoided the sweep, as Walter and Joey Atas beat Bass and Parbhu 8-6 at No. 2.

The Blue Devils won in straight sets in the three quickest singles matches. First off was Rodrigues, who won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 against freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.), who had to retire from his match due to cramping and then spent several hours in the hospital on Saturday. At No. 4, Atas – who played No. 1 for Ohio State last season before transferring to Duke – beat King 6-4, 6-4. Senior Christopher Brown put the Devils within a point of victory by beating ND sophomore Irackli Akhvlediani (Vienna, Austria/Vienna International School) 6-3, 6-2 at No. 6. It was the first action of the spring for the Irish player, who had not played since Sept. 25 due to injuries.

The Blue Devils beat the Irish for the fourth consecutive time and seven times in the last eight meetings. Duke now holds a 15-4 advantage in the all-time series, including 8-2 at home. The Devils became the first team to post 10 wins over Notre Dame since Bayliss took over the program 19 years ago.

The Irish have now lost four consecutive 4-3 matches, dating back to last season, with all of those contests coming away from home and against teams ranked among the national top 30.

Notre Dame has just one day off before returning to action, as the Irish will head to #3 Illinois on Tuesday for a 5:30 p.m. (CST) match in the Atkins Tennis Center.

#9 Duke 4, #26 Notre Dame 3SinglesNo. 1:  *#9 Ludovic Walter (D) def. #8 Stephen Bass (ND) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3No. 2:  #14 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) def. #20 Jonathan Stokke (D) 4-6, 6-4, 6-1No. 3:  Peter Rodrigues (D) def. Brett Helgeson (ND) 6-0, 6-1No. 4:  Joey Atas (D) def. Barry King (ND) 6-4, 6-4No. 5:  Ryan Keckley (ND) def. Kiril Dimitrov (D) 7-6, 6-3, 6-0No. 6:  Christopher Brown (D) def. Irackli Akhvlediani (ND) 6-3, 6-2Order of Finish: 3, 4, 6, 2, 5, 1*DoublesNo. 1:  Keckley/King (ND) def. Stephen Amritraj/Stokke (D) 8-2No. 2:  Atas/Walter (D) def. Bass/Parbhu (ND) 8-6No. 3:  *Langenkamp/Andrew Roth (ND) def. Rodrigues/Ned Samuelson (D) 8-5Order of Finish: 1, 3*, 2