March 11, 2004
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The 44th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (10-5) registered its third consecutive shutout in upsetting #30 Fresno State 4-0 in the opening round of the Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic Thursday afternoon at the Lagoon Park Tennis Center. The win was highlighted by Irish senior tri-captain Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) knocking off #51 Greg Shearer of New Zealand 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles.
The win sent the Irish into the quarterfinals of the Blue/Gray Classic for the 13th time in the last 14 years. Notre Dame, which won the tournament in 1993 and 2001 and was the runner-up three times, will next play top-seeded #11 Virginia Commonwealth at 2:30 p.m. (CST) on Friday.
It was the first loss for the Bulldogs (7-5) in more than a month, snapping Fresno State’s five-match winning streak.
Notre Dame continued its doubles resurgence, winning the initial point of the match for the fifth consecutive time. First off the court were sophomore Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School), who beat Jakub Cech of the Czech Republic and Alex Krohn 8-3 at No. 3. The Irish pair is 5-0 this season, including an undefeated mark since being slotted in the No. 3 position three matches ago. Langenkamp and Bass also advanced through qualifying and then reached the consolation final of the main draw in last weekend’s Pacific Coast Doubles Classic, an elite event featuring top current and former college players that does not count in players’ official records.
Haddock and fellow senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris), the nation’s 29th-ranked doubles team, provided the clinching win by beating Charles Irie of the Ivory Coast and Shearer 8-3 at No. 2. The Irish pair has won six in a row and stands 10-1 this season, including 7-1 in dual matches at No. 2. Haddock and Scott are 15-3 in their careers as a team.
In the remaining doubles match, Sergiu Modoc and Stefan Suta of Germany were leading 6-5 against the No. 44 team in college tennis, Notre Dame junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School [TX]) and freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.), when the contest was abandoned.
Over the last five matches, the Irish are 13-1 in doubles after going just 8-19 in their initial 10 contests, winning the doubles point just twice in nine tries (doubles was not played vs. St. John’s).
Haddock was first off the court in singles with his convincing upset. He is 15-9 this season, having won five of his last six matches. The win was Haddock’s first in 2003-04 against a ranked opponent and 13th of his career. In an interesting twist, it marked his third career win over the 51st-ranked player in the nation, having also topped Tvrtko Kujundzic of Louisville in the fall of 2000 and Aleksey Zharinov of Minnesota in the fall of ’02 when they occupied that slot in the rankings.
Bass put the Irish within a point of victory with a quick triumph of his own, defeating Irie 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4. He has won four in a row and seven of his last eight contests to stand 17-5 overall this season, including 11-3 in dual-match play. The defeat was the first for Irie this season, as he was 5-0 heading into the match.
Freshman Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) provided the clinching win for Notre Dame, downing Cech 7-5, 6-2 at No. 5.
The Irish were on the verge of another victory when the match was abandoned. Keckley had won the first set 6-4 against Jure Kekez of Croatia at No. 6 and was serving for the match at 5-4 in the second.
The other two abandoned contests appeared destined for third sets. At No. 2, Krohn won the first set 6-3 against Scott, but the Irish senior was leading 3-1 in the second. The No. 3 match saw D’Amico take the first set 6-2, but Suta ahead 5-2 in the second frame when the match was discontinued.
The victory was the third this season for the Irish against a higher-ranked team, following wins vs. #37 Northwestern and #40 SMU last month. In 2003, Notre Dame had just a pair of triumphs against higher-ranked foes all season, with both coming against Virginia Tech.
Notre Dame’s 10 wins equal its total for last season (10-12), its first losing campaign in 25 years and the only losing season in the 35-year head-coaching career of Bob Bayliss.
The last time Notre Dame registered three consecutive shutouts was March 8-16, 2001, when the Irish beat Michigan 7-0 before posting 4-0 wins against Tulane and Rice in the first two rounds of the Blue/Gray.
The contest was a rematch of the 2001 Blue/Gray title match, in which #22 Notre Dame topped #26 Fresno State 4-2 for its 10th consecutive victory, which propelled the Irish into the national top 10 the following week.
The Irish improved to 2-0 this season outdoors, following a 7-0 victory against Saint Joseph’s on Sunday in La Jolla.
Notre Dame and VCU will meet for just the second time. The only previous meeting was in the 1997 Blue/Gray Classic, in which the 20th-ranked Irish prevailed 4-3 over the 10th-ranked Rams in the quarterfinals en route to a runner-up finish.
The Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic is one of the most elite regular-season dual-match tournaments in the country. Of the 16 teams in this year’s field, 14 carry national rankings, including four in the top 30 and 10 in the top 50.
#44 Notre Dame 4, #30 Fresno State 0
No. 1: Luis Haddock (ND) d. #51 Greg Shearer (FSU) 6-1, 6-1
No. 2: Alex Krohn (FSU) vs. Matthew Scott 6-3, 1-3, abandoned
No. 3: Brent D’Amico (ND) vs. Stefan Suta (FSU) 6-2, 2-5, abandoned
No. 4: Stephen Bass (ND) d. Charles Irie (FSU) 6-2, 6-1
No. 5: *Barry King (ND) d. Jakub Cech (FSU) 7-5, 6-2
No. 6: Ryan Keckley (ND) vs. Jure Kekez (FSU) 6-4, 5-4, abandoned
Order of Finish: 1, 4, 5*
No. 1: Sergiu Modoc/Suta (FSU) vs. #44 D’Amico/Keckley (ND) 6-5, abandoned
No. 2: *#29 Haddock/Scott (ND) d. Irie/Shearer (FSU) 8-3
No. 3: S. Bass/Langenkamp (ND) d. Cech/Krohn (FSU) 8-3
Order of Finish: 3, 2*