March 30, 2003
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (6-10, 1-1) lost 6-1 to No. 25 Miami Sunday afternoon at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. The Hurricanes (12-5, 1-1) won the doubles point and five of six singles matches on their way to muddying the BIG EAST conference picture. Notre Dame, Miami, and Virginia Tech — the top three finishers from a year ago and the only three conference teams listed in the national rankings — all have 1-1 marks against each other, leaving ambiguity regarding the top three seeds in the conference championship, slated for April 25-27 in Coral Gables, Fla.
The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead with wins at the top two positions in doubles. Andrew Golub and Colin Purcell, the No. 56 team in the nation, won 8-3 at No. 1 and Todd Widom and Eric Hechtman had an 8-6 victory at No. 2. Notre Dame struck back at No. 3, with junior Ben Hatten (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill H.S.) and sophomore Paul McNaughton (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) getting their first win in three matches together this season, prevailing 8-4. After winning at the bottom doubles position just three times in the first 13 matches, the Irish have been victorious there in each of the last two contests.
Notre Dame’s lone victory in singles came from junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris), who beat Golub 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2. Scott, who did not play singles in the last two matches due to illness, has won seven of his last nine matches after compiling a 5-11 record up to that point this season.
The only other Irish player to win a set was sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School), who fell in a match tiebreaker to Luis Manrique at No. 3 after winning the opening frame. D’Amico has won just once in six matches extending beyond the second set this season (1-3 in three sets, 0-2 in match tiebreakers).
Miami clinched the win with a trio of straight-set wins. At No. 1, #14 Widom beat #122 Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) 6-3, 6-1, while Purcell defeated Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (Guaynabo, P.R./Colegio Marista) 6-2, 6-2 at No. 5 and John Hoyes topped Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) 6-2, 6-2 at No. 6. Irish senior Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) retired down 5-4 in the second set after dropping the opening frame to Hechtman at No. 4.
For the third straight match and fourth time in the last five contests, the Irish were without one of their starting singles players. On Sunday it was freshman Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.), who normally plays No. 5, but missed the match with a wrist injury.
Though teams are not required to play a set schedule of league matches, berths and seeding in the six-team field at the BIG EAST Championship are decided by head-to-head results and national rankings. The top three finishers from last year’s tournament each hold national rankings, placing them in position to gain the top three seeds in this year’s championship. Defending champion Notre Dame is 53rd, while ’02 runner-up Miami is 25th, and last year’s third-place finisher, Virginia Tech, is 42nd. All three are done with their regular-season conference slates this season, with the Irish and Hurricanes standing 1-1 and the Hokies 2-1 (also including a win over West Virginia). Virginia Tech beat Miami 5-2 in Coral Gables last month, while Notre Dame topped the Hokies 5-2 last Sunday in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The top two seeds get byes into the semifinals.
Among the rest of the 10 conference schools that play men’s tennis, Rutgers (4th in ’02), Boston College (6th in ’02), and Villanova are each 1-0, while West Virginia (5th in ’02) is 0-1, Georgetown is 0-3, and Connecticut and St. John’s had not yet played a league match heading into Sunday.
Notre Dame, which has four regular-season matches remaining prior to the BIG EAST Championship, will next play at #54 SMU on Sunday, April 6, at Noon (CST).
#25 Miami 6, #53 Notre Dame 1
No. 1: #14 Todd Widom (M) d. #122 Luis Haddock (ND) 6-1, 6-3
No. 2: Matthew Scott (ND) d. Andrew Golub (M) 6-4, 6-2
No. 3: Luis Manrique (M) d. Brent D’Amico (ND) 2-6, 6-2, 1-0
No. 4: Eric Hechtman (M) d. Brian Farrell (ND) 6-3, 5-4, ret.
No. 5: Colin Purcell (M) d. Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (ND) 6-2, 6-2
No. 6: John Hoyes (M) d. Eric Langenkamp (ND) 6-1, 6-2
No. 1: #56 Golub/Purcell (M) d. D’Amico/Scott (ND) 8-3
No. 2: Hechtman/Widom (M) d. Farrell/Haddock (ND) 8-6
No. 3: Ben Hatten/Paul McNaughton (ND) d. Hoyes/Manrique (M) 8-4