Feb. 7, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 28th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (2-4) lost its third match in four days – all against top-30 competition – falling 7-0 at #3 Illinois (4-0) Tuesday evening in the Atkins Tennis Center. The Irish will next return home for their only homestand of the season, a four-match stretch extending over just five days. Notre Dame will welcome #66 Purdue to the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Saturday for a 1 p.m. (EST) match and will then have a home doubleheader on Sunday, facing Wisconsin at Noon and Bradley at 5 p.m. Michigan State, ranked 75th, will visit Notre Dame next Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 4 p.m. Following these four matches, the Irish will have only three more home dates over the remainder of the season, which figures to last more than three additional months.
Illinois won in the final match remaining to take the doubles point and then dropped just a pair of sets en route to sweeping the singles contests.
“Illinois was just too strong for us tonight,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss. “It is easy to see why they are ranked #3 in the country. They are as good as anybody this year – they are certainly the best team we have faced. They are strong right through the lineup, play great doubles at Nos. 1 and 2, and were way too aggressive for us. I think they have a chance to win the NCAA championship this year.”
The doubles point came down to the No. 1 match, where Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Ryan Rowe prevailed 8-3 over Irish juniors Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) and Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College). The Notre Dame duo had won three straight, including an upset of the nation’s #1-ranked squad on Saturday. Anderson and Rowe are now 5-0 as a team, having knocked off a pair of nationally-ranked squads, including the fourth-ranked team in college tennis.
Irish senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and sophomore Andrew Roth (Houston, Texas/Tenney School) were impressive for the second time in as many matches since being paired together on Sunday. The pair delivered ND’s lone bright spot, defeating GD Jones of New Zealand and Brandon Davis 8-3 at No. 3 in the quickest doubles contest. Langenkamp improved to 7-4 this season in doubles, tying him for the team lead in doubles wins with freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.). Ruben Gonzales – a native of Terre Haute, Ind. – and senior Ryler DeHeart prevailed 8-2 at No. 2 against Helgeson and sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S) to put the point in the hands of the No. 1 players. That Illini team is 5-0 playing together.
Rowe, ranked 99th, became the first player to defeat Keckley in singles this spring, downing the St. Joseph’s High School graduate 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5. The Irish junior had been 5-0 in dual action this spring. Rowe is on an eight-match winning streak and stands 14-2 on the season.
Next off the court was Jones, who defeated King 7-6, 6-1 at No. 3. The New Zealander was ranked 11th in the preseason national singles rankings, but did not play collegiately during the fall and, thus, was ineligible for the most-recent listing. Gonzales, ranked 59th, clinched the Illini victory by beating Helgeson 6-2, 6-3 at No. 4.
Anderson, ranked 37th, improved to 10-1 on the season by knocking off eighth-ranked Bass 6-4, 7-5 at No. 2. Langenkamp, ranked 65th, was the lone Irish player to win the opening set, but he could not convert that into a match victory, as he fell to fellow senior Pramod Dabir 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (10-0) at No. 6.
Parbhu, ranked 14th, nearly pulled off an upset in his collegiate debut at No. 1 singles, but he eventually lost to seventh-ranked DeHeart 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. The Illinois senior – who was ranked #1 in the preseason – has not lost since Nov. 3, reeling off 11 consecutive victories to move his season record to 18-2.
It was the first 7-0 loss for Notre Dame since falling by that score in its last visit to Illinois, on Feb. 26, 2004, when the Fighting Illini were ranked #1.
Illinois has now won six consecutive matches against Notre Dame, as well as 11 of the last 12 meetings between the schools, though ND still holds a 20-18 advantage in the all-time series. The last Irish victory was a 4-3 affair in the Atkins Tennis Center in 2002, but the Fighting Illini have compiled an incredible 48-1 home record since that match. Illinois followed Duke – which accomplished the feat two days sooner – in becoming the first schools to register 10 victories against Notre Dame since Bayliss took over the program 19 seasons ago. Bayliss still holds a 12-10 career mark against the Illini, while U of I head coach Brad Dancer earned his first career win vs. the Irish. His Fresno State team was defeated in 2004 in his only previous matchup with ND.
#3 Illinois 7, #28 Notre Dame 0SinglesNo. 1: #7 Ryler DeHeart (I) vs. #14 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3No. 2: #37 Kevin Anderson (I) def. #8 Stephen Bass (ND) 6-4, 7-5No. 3: GD Jones (I) def. Barry King (ND) 7-6 (7-5), 6-1No. 4: #59 Ruben Gonzales (I) vs. Brett Helgeson (ND) 6-2, 6-3No. 5: #99 Ryan Rowe (I) def. Ryan Keckley (ND) 6-3, 6-4No. 6: Pramod Dabir (I) def. #65 Eric Langenkamp (ND) 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (10-0)Order of Finish: 5, 3, 4*, 2, 6, 1DoublesNo. 1: *Anderson/Rowe (I) def. Keckley/King (ND) 8-3No. 2: DeHeart/Gonzales (I) def. Helgeson/Parbhu (ND) 8-2No. 3: Langenkamp/Andrew Roth (ND) def. Brandon Davis/Jones (I) 8-3Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1*