Jan. 29, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Despite strong performances nearly across the board, the 34th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team fell short in an upset bid against No. 2 Illinois Wednesday afternoon. The Illini (2-0) rallied from deficits in a pair doubles matches to win the initial point of the contest, and Illinois then went on to win five of six singles matches to clinch a 6-1 victory. The Irish (0-3) will seek their first victory of the season on Friday against No. 50 Florida State at 4:00 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Pavilion in a “Gold Game” event. The “Gold Game” distinction was created by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council to encourage the entire Notre Dame community to attend designated games.
Sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) continued his hot play by posting an upset of 84th-ranked Ryler DeHeart, 7-5, 7-5, at No. 3 singles to provide the lone Notre Dame point for the second match in a row. D’Amico is 3-0 this spring at No. 3 after playing singles in only four dual matches a year ago, going 1-3 at No. 6.
The Irish appeared to be on the verge of winning the doubles point, leading late in two matches before Illinois rallied. Though the Illini gained an easy win at No. 3, D’Amico and junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) jumped out to a 6-1 lead at No. 1, but Rajeev Ram and Brian Wilson would rattle off seven straight games to clinch the doubles point for Illinois. At No. 2, juniors Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and Ben Hatten (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill H.S.) forced the nation’s No. 2 doubles team, Michael Calkins and Amer Delic, to a tiebreaker, but fell 9-8 (7-4).
Though D’Amico was the only Notre Dame player to win in singles, a number of the matches were closely contested. Junior Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (Guaynabo, P.R./Colegio Marista), making his singles dual-match debut in an Irish uniform after playing the previous three seasons at Bowling Green, won the first set before falling 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 to Chris Martin at No. 5. Scott had a strong showing against Delic, the No. 2 singles player in college tennis, but eventually lost 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).
Notre Dame opened the season 0-3 for just the second time in school history. The 1988 squad — the first under head coach Bob Bayliss — dropped its first three matches, but rebounded to finish 17-13.
Illinois, which had two players ranked in the national top 20 sit out of the singles lineup on Wednesday, has now won eight of its last nine matches against Notre Dame.
#2 Illinois 6, #34 Notre Dame 1
No. 1: *Rajeev Ram (I) d. #72 Luis Haddock (ND) 6-4, 6-2
No. 2: #2 Amer Delic (I) d. #119 Matthew Scott (ND) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)
No. 3: Brent D’Amico (ND) d. #84 Ryler DeHeart (I) 7-5, 7-5
No. 4: #42 Michael Calkins (I) d. Patrick Buchanan (ND) 6-3, 6-4
No. 5: Chris Martin (I) d. Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (ND) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
No. 6: Pramod Dabir (I) d. Jimmy Bass (ND) 6-4, 6-2
No. 1: *Ram/Brian Wilson (I) d. D’Amico/Scott (ND) 8-6
No. 2: #2 Calkins/Delic (I) d. Haddock/Ben Hatten (ND) 9-8 (7-4)
No. 3: DeHeart/Phil Stolt (I) d. Jake Cram/Paul McNaughton (ND) 8-2