Feb. 2, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team has a busy week ahead of it as the Irish pursue their first victory of the season after the program’s first-ever 0-4 start. Notre Dame, 34th in the latest ITA national rankings, will be on the road for a pair of matches, traveling to Wisconsin (2-0) on Tuesday (in a match originally schedule for Thursday) and to No. 44 Purdue (1-0) on Saturday, before returning home to play host to No. 10 Duke (3-0) on Sunday at Noon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish, who have dropped a pair of matches to top-25 teams as well as two in 4-3 decisions decided by the last match on-court, have won each of the last 11 meetings with the Badgers and hold a 13-match winning streak against the Boilermakers, while splitting the last six with the Blue Devils, including a 4-3 win in 2002.
LAST WEEK’S ACTION: The Irish dropped a pair of home matches last week, losing 6-1 to No. 2 Illinois on Wednesday and 4-3 to No. 50 Florida State on Friday. Notre Dame led late in two of the doubles matches against the Illini, but Illinois stormed back to take the initial point of the match. In singles, only sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) could manage a victory, though he upset No. 84 Ryler DeHeart 7-5, 7-5 at No. 3.
On Friday, the doubles point came down to the last match on-court, but Alex Herrera and Romain Jurd, the No. 38 doubles team in college tennis, turned in an 8-5 victory to give Florida State a 1-0 lead. In singles, the Irish got wins from Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) at No. 2, D’Amico at No. 3 and Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Piux X H.S.) at No. 4, but dropped matches at Nos. 5 and 6. In the deciding contest, Mat Cloer rallied from a first-set deficit for a 7-5, 6-4 win over Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) at No. 1. The win for Farrell was his first in 11 months after missing most of last spring and fall with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, D’Amico improved to 4-0 this spring.
IRISH vs. BADGERS: Wisconsin will be looking for its third straight home victory to open the season after wins over Northern Illinois (4-3) and DePaul (6-1). The Badgers return four letterwinners from last season’s squad that was 9-13 (2-8 Big Ten) and fell in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Wisconsin started 6-2, with losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State, and rose to 49th in the country at one point. Head coach Pat Klingelhoets is in his 21st season at Wisconsin and has won over 250 matches.
The Badgers and the Irish will meet for the 18th consecutive season, the second-longest current-running series (Notre Dame and Ohio State have played in each of the last 29 seasons). This will be the 58th overall meeting in the series, which began in 1929 with a 4-3 Irish victory. Notre Dame has a 41-16 edge all-time and has won each of the last 11 after the Badgers took the first four in the Bob Bayliss era. In the recent losing streak, Wisconsin has not won more than two points in a match. The last Badger win was a 6-3 upset of the 20th-ranked Irish in Madison in 1991.
Last season, the Irish gained a 6-1 home victory. Notre Dame swept the doubles matches and then went on to win five of six in singles, dropping only the No. 2 tilt, though the No. 5 contest went to a match tiebreaker.
IRISH vs. BOILERMAKERS: Purdue opened its season with a 7-0 win over Butler on Sunday and will play host to Toledo on Friday before facing the Irish. The Boilermakers, ranked 44th in the nation, are led by senior Scott Mayer, who is 119th in the singles rankings. Purdue returned seven letterwinners, including five of its top six players, from last season’s squad that was 13-12 (6-4 Big Ten), lost 4-0 to the Irish in the second round of the NCAA tournament (the best result in school history), and finished with a national ranking of No. 42. Head coach Tim Madden is in his ninth year at Purdue and has a 113-83 (.577) mark.
Notre Dame and Purdue will meet for the eighth consecutive season and the 52nd time overall. The Irish have won all 13 meetings under head coach Bob Bayliss, with the last Boilermaker win coming in 1987 by a 7-2 score. Notre Dame leads the series 43-8 and a win would tie Purdue with Marquette for the distinction of the most-defeated team in the history of the Irish program (Notre Dame has won all 44 meetings with the Golden Eagles). This will mark only the third trip to Lafayette, Ind. in the Bayliss era, with the Irish managing 4-3 wins in each of the previous two (1999 and 2001).
In 2002, the Irish registered a pair of shutouts in the Eck Tennis Pavilion against Purdue — 7-0 in the regular season and 4-0 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. In February, the Irish swept the doubles matches and won all six singles contests, though the Nos. 1 and 4 matches were decided in three sets. In May, the doubles point came down to the last match on-court, but Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) and Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) delivered a 9-7 win to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. The Irish got straight-set wins at Nos. 3, 5 and 6 to clinch the victory, though the other three matches were in third sets.
IRISH vs. BLUE DEVILS: Duke is off to a hot start this season after opening with three home victories, including a 5-1 win over No. 15 Virginia Commonwealth. Also falling to the Blue Devils were William & Mary (5-2) and Princeton (7-0). Duke will travel to No. 2 Illinois on Friday before coming to the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Blue Devils are ranked 10th in the nation and boast a pair of ranked singles players and a ranked doubles team. Senior Michael Yani is 33rd in singles and freshman Ludovic Walter is 77th. Junior Phillip King, who has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation, was seventh in the preseason singles rankings, but did not play collegiately in the fall and was, thus, ineligible to receive a ranking in the most recent listing. Sophomore Jason Zimmerman and freshman Jonathan Stokke are 16th in doubles, while Yani and King were 10th in the preseason, but were ineligible for the fall rankings. The Blue Devils returned five of their top six players from last year’s squad that was 17-12 (8-0 ACC) and was ranked as high as ninth before finishing 17th following a loss to Kentucky in the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament. Duke did register three wins over top-10 teams, downing #4 Tennessee, #1 Illinois and #6 Pepperdine. Head coach Jay Lapidus is in his 13th season and has a 265-76 (.777) record.
Duke and Notre Dame will meet for the 10th straight season and the 17th time overall. The series began with a 9-0 Blue Devil win in 1955, and Duke holds a 12-4 all-time edge. The Devils won nine of the first 10 matchups, but the teams have split the last six, with Notre Dame winning by 4-3 scores in 2002, 1998, and ’97. Head coach Bob Bayliss is 4-7 against the Blue Devils. Duke is one of just four teams (also Georgia, Kentucky and Texas) that have a winning record against Bayliss having played the Irish more than five times during that span. The Blue Devils have won three of four trips to Notre Dame since 1995.
Last season, seventh-ranked Notre Dame edged No. 10 Duke 4-3 on the road in the Blue Devils’ season opener. Duke won the doubles point, but the Irish won the middle four singles contests to rally for the win. After Peter Schults pulled out a three-set win vs. Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) at No. 6 to tie the match 3-3, Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) finished a 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 triumph over Alex Bose at No. 4 to ice the victory.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Bob Bayliss is in his 16th year at Notre Dame with a 284-132 (.683) record and his 34th year as a collegiate coach with a 566-224 (.715) mark, including 33 straight winning seasons. He ranks sixth among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories and is one of just three coaches to have led his current team to the NCAA tournament in each of the last 12 seasons, a streak that also represents the longest of any sport at Notre Dame. Bayliss’ Irish have finished in the top 20 nine times in the past 13 years, advancing to the NCAA round of 16 on five occasions, highlighted by a quarterfinal appearance in 1993 and a national runner-up finish in ’92. Bayliss, named national coach of the year in 1980 and ’92, is a four-time midwest region coach of the year and has been honored as his conference’s top coach on 10 occasions, including three times in seven years in the BIG EAST. In his time at Notre Dame, Bayliss’ teams have won 10 conference titles, while his players have earned All-America honors 17 times, won eight national ITA awards, and earned 15 invitations to the NCAA singles championship and 11 to the NCAA doubles tournament. A member of the University of Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English while playing tennis and basketball, Bayliss began his coaching career at Navy, where he coached for 11 years. He coached at MIT for three years before coming to Notre Dame in 1988.
ITA RANKINGS: Notre Dame stands 34th among the 75 teams ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in the most recent set of national rankings. A new set of team rankings is slated to be released on Wednesday. The Irish, 27th this year, have been ranked in the preseason national top 35 in each of the last 13 years. A pair of junior tri-captains earned mention in the fall national singles rankings. Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) is listed a career-high 72nd, while Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris), Notre Dame’s only player ranked in the preseason poll released in September, is tied for 119th. In the midwest region singles rankings released at the end of the fall season, Haddock and Scott were 10th and 13th, respectively, in singles, while Scott and sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) were14th in doubles.
SLOW START: After not losing more than two matches to start any of the previous 80 seasons in the history of Notre Dame men’s tennis, this year’s squad has opened 0-4, though two of the losses came to top-25 teams and the other two were 4-3 matches determined in the final match on-court. No. 2 Illinois and No. 24 Ohio State each have defeated the Irish, while Indiana and Florida State, both currently ranked in the top 50, each pulled out road wins against Notre Dame.
D’AMINANT D’AMICO: After playing singles in only four dual matches a year ago, compiling a 1-3 mark at No. 6, Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) has emerged as the most consistent winner for the Irish early this spring. After making the jump to No. 3 singles, the sophomore is 4-0, including his first two career victories against ranked players, coming just two days apart. D’Amico upset 84th-ranked Ryler DeHeart of Illinois 7-5, 7-5 on Wednesday before knocking off No. 114 Alex Herrera of Florida State 6-3, 6-3 on Friday.
BACK IN THE SADDLE: Senior Brian Farrell’s (Lilburn, Ga./St. Piux X H.S.) 6-4, 7-5 victory at No. 4 singles against Florida State’s Chris Westerhof last Friday completed the Irish tri-captain’s long road back from a shoulder injury that kept him out for most of last spring and fall. Farrell played Nos. 5 and 6 singles in the first month of last season before suffering a shoulder injury in March that would sideline him for the rest of the spring and most of the fall. Farrell played one match in October’s Omni Hotels Midwest Championships, which marked his first action since Feb. 24, 2002, when he dropped a three-set decision to Tarik El Bassiouni of Miami. His last win prior to Friday was on Feb. 20, 2002 against Michigan State’s Jimmy McGuire.
TOUGH COMPETITION: Irish players at No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles have had some close losses against stiff competition early this season. In a span of four days, junior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris) faced a pair of players ranked among the top 10 in college tennis at No. 2 singles, dropping close decisions in both cases. Ohio State’s Jeremy Wurtzman, ranked seventh, topped Scott 7-5, 6-3 on Jan. 26 before second-ranked Amer Delic of Illinois gained a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) triumph over Scott four days later. At No. 2 doubles, juniors Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) and Ben Hatten (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill H.S.), teaming for the first time in their careers, had tough losses to two nationally-ranked teams last week. The Irish squad fell in a tiebreaker, 9-8 (7-4), to Delic and Calkins of Illinois, the nation’s No. 2 team, before dropping an 8-5 decision to Florida State’s 38th-ranked pair of Alex Herrera and Romain Jurd.
IRISH FACE TOUGH SLATE: The road to the 2003 NCAA Championship will be challenging for Notre Dame. Of the 17 dual-match opponents the Irish will face this season, 13 of them earned berths to last year’s NCAA tournament and were in the top 50 of this year’s ITA preseason rankings, including six in the top 30. Highlighting Notre Dame’s schedule are five matches with Top 25 foes – at No. 24 Ohio State (L, 1-6), vs. No. 2 Illinois (L, 1-6), vs. No. 11 Duke (Feb. 9), vs. No. 19 Minnesota (March 22), and at No. 9 Kentucky (April 13). Illinois and Kentucky each advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals a year ago. In addition to the 17 scheduled matches, the Irish will compete in the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic, in which Notre Dame has faced at least one top-25 team in each of the last 12 years.
CHANGE — NOTHING STAYS THE SAME: Two Notre Dame road matches have been moved from their original dates. The Irish will travel to Wisconsin on Tue., Feb. 4 instead of two days later, and Notre Dame will be at Kentucky on Sun., April 11 instead of two days earlier.
BASS, SOUTH BEND’S KECKLEY SET TO JOIN IRISH: Bob Bayliss recently announced the signing of two incoming freshmen for the 2003-04 school year. Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) and Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.) have signed national letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame next year and join the Irish tennis team in the fall. Both competitors are among the top 18 current prep players who will be entering college in the fall and each has posted an undefeated record in regular-season singles matches in high school. Bass, whose brother Jimmy Bass (Bronxville, N.Y.) is a sophomore on the Irish tennis team, is ranked 23rd in the USTA Boys’ 18-and-under rankings and is 10th among American players who will enter college in the fall. He competed in the boys’ singles and doubles draw in the 2002 U.S. Open. Keckley completed a perfect 18-0 senior season by capturing the Indiana state singles title last fall. He is 46th in the USTA Boys’ 18s rankings and is 18th among current high school seniors in the U.S. Both players advanced to the round of 32 in the USTA Boys’ 18s National Hard Court Championships last summer.
KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME TENNIS: For the fastest results of Notre Dame tennis matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #8. The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com. The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame tennis match. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Bo Rottenborn at Rottenborn.email@example.com, or Chris Masters at Masters.firstname.lastname@example.org, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.