Sept. 14, 2003
HOUSTON, Texas – The Notre Dame men’s tennis team completed an outstanding opening weekend of play by posting an 11-0 record on Sunday, the final day of the Crowne Plaza Invitational. The Irish won championships in three of four singles flights and one of two doubles flights in a four-team tournament featuring three squads that finished ahead of Notre Dame in last year’s final national rankings. Senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) led the way, notching an upset against a top-60 player for the second consecutive day, beating #18 Richard Barker of Rice in straight sets.
“I’m obviously really encouraged by our results, but one tournament does not make a season,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss. “We competed pretty darn well, and we happened to win a lot. It was a pretty great weekend for us.”
In all, Notre Dame players were 22-5 in singles and 5-3 in doubles. Among the top Irish performers were four players who went undefeated in singles, including a pair of rookies who did not lose in singles or doubles in their first collegiate event. Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School), who was a finalist at the USTA Boys’ 18s Super National Clay Court Championships over the summer, won three matches in the B singles flight, including a 6-1, 6-3 decision against Shunsuke Shimizu of Tulsa on Sunday, to win the flight championship.
He teamed with fellow freshman Bobby McNally (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Preparatory School) in flight B doubles action, gaining a first-round bye before winning two matches to capture that title. The Irish rookies defeated Danny Bryan and Brandon Nicholson of LSU 8-4 on Sunday.
In singles play, McNally also was perfect, winning a trio of flight D matches, culiminating with a triumph over Rice’s Roland Robb, 7-6, 6-1, on Sunday. In other flight D play, freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph H.S.) completed an undefeated singles weekend by beating Luc Maasdorp of Tulsa 6-1, 6-1. McNally and Keckley shared the flight’s championship.
Sophomore Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) also came away with a singles title, winning the flight C championship with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Colt Gaston of LSU.
Each of the other five Notre Dame players competing were 2-1 in singles. Scott’s victories both came against ranked players. His 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Barker on Sunday marked his second career triumph over a top-20 player. Scott was winless in eight matches against ranked opponents a year ago and now has four career wins vs. ranked foes.
Notre Dame struggled early on Friday when rain forced some of the matches indoors to the fast courts of the Met Business and Sports Club. But once the weather cleared up, the Irish took control, winning 24 of 28 matches played outdoors at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium.
Senior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) finished third in the A flight with a 6-7, 6-2, 7-5 win against LSU’s Jason Hazley, while sophomore Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) took the same spot in the B flight, beating Hazley’s teammate Bryan 7-5, 6-4. Freshman Irackli Akhvlediani (Vienna, Austria/Vienna International School) took third in the C flight with a comeback win against Rice’s Jason Mok. Akhvlediani trailed 5-2 in the third set, but rallied to send it to a tiebreaker. He then fell behind 4-1 in the ‘breaker before coming back for a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) win.
Junior Jimmy Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) won a three-setter in the D flight over Eduardo Gutierrez of Tulsa, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6.
In doubles, Scott and Langenkamp were slated to face Haddock and Keckley in the consolation final of the A flight, but the match was not played. In B flight action, Akhvlediani and Buchanan beat Rojas and Gutierrez of Tulsa 8-0 to win the consolation championship.
Notre Dame’s four freshmen played particularly well in their first collegiate matches, combining to go 11-1 in singles and 7-3 in doubles. Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College), another Irish rookie and the national 18-and-under champion of Ireland, missed the season-opening tournament with tendinitis in his wrist.
“I think our freshmen made a big impression on the other coaches,” said Bayliss. “They all commented on them to me. I think it is an extraordinary group, and it is especially rewarding to see them fit in so well with the rest of the team.”
Notre Dame will return to the courts Sept. 25-28 for the adidas Invitational in Peachtree City, Ga. A limited number of Irish players will play in that event, but the full team will be back in action Oct. 3-5 in the Tom Fallon Invitational, the lone home tournament of the fall season.
Crowne Plaza Invitational — Day Three
Flight A Singles
#64 Luis Haddock (ND) d. Jason Hazley (LSU) 6-7, 6-2, 7-5 — third-place match
Matthew Scott (ND) d. #18 Richard Barker (Rice) 6-2, 6-3 — consolationa final
Flight B Singles
Stephen Bass (ND) d. Shunsuke Shimizu (Tulsa) 6-1, 6-3 — championship match
Patrick Buchanan (ND) d. Danny Bryan (LSU) 7-5, 6-4 — third-place match
Flight C Singles
Eric Langenkamp (ND) d. Colt Gaston (LSU) 6-3, 6-4 — championship match
Irackli Akhvlediani (ND) d. Jason Mok (Rice) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) — third-place match
Flight D Singles
Bobby McNally (ND) d. Roland Robb (Rice) 7-6, 6-1
Ryan Keckley (ND) d. Luc Maasdorp (Tulsa) 6-1, 6-1
Jimmy Bass (ND) d. Eduardo Gutierrez (Tulsa) 6-2, 5-7, 7-6
Flight B Doubles
S. Bass/McNally (ND) d. Bryan/Nicholson (LSU) 8-4 — championship match
Akhvlediani/Buchanan (ND) d. Gutierrez/Rojas (Tulsa) 8-2 — consolation final