Jan. 21, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. – The 26th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (1-0) began the dual-match portion of the 2005-06 season with a 6-1 road victory against #51 Northwestern (3-2) Saturday evening in the Combe Tennis Center. The Irish prevailed 9-7 in the final match on court in doubles, but then did not drop a set en route to winning all of the top five contests in singles. Next up for Notre Dame is a huge test, as the Irish will challenge #1 Virginia on Friday in Richmond before welcoming William & Mary to the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Sunday at 10 a.m. (EST) for their home opener.
The doubles point came down to the No. 3 contest, where Notre Dame junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) and freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) finally defeated Willy Lock of Peru and Juan Gomez of Mexico. Consecutive service breaks midway through the match put the Wildcats up 6-4, but Bass and Helgeson fought back, winning three straight games. The elder Irish player then held serve to put ND up 8-7, with Lock serving to put the contest into a tiebreaker. Helgeson winners – one on a lob and another on a forehand return down the line – saved a pair of game points, and a Lock double fault gave the Irish a match point. The Peruvian rushed the net, but could not handle a second blistering groundstroke from the Notre Dame rookie, sending it sailing long to give the Irish the doubles point. Bass and Helgeson are now unbeaten in two matches together.
Junior Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) and sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) were tied 2-2 against Christian Tempke of Germany and Marc Dwyer at No. 2 before reeling off six consecutive games for an 8-2 win to set up Bass’ and Helgeson’s win.
Northwestern’s team of Matt Christian and Adam Schaechterle then pulled off an 8-6 upset of the 12th-ranked team in college tennis, senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) and junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.). The match featured three consecutive service breaks to put the Wildcats up 3-2, but then neither team managed another service break, despite the Irish duo – playing for the first time since earning a national ranking together – having several break points.
First off the court in singles was Keckley, who won the first set, 6-2, against Christian at No. 5 only to have the Northwestern junior retire due to injury.
Helgeson was dominant in his collegiate dual singles debut, downing Gomez 6-0, 6-3 at No. 4. The Irish rookie now stands 8-1 in singles in his first campaign, as well as 6-1 in doubles.
Just seconds before Notre Dame clinched the victory, Northwestern avoided the shutout, when Schaechterle upset 65th-ranked Langenkamp 6-3, 6-0 at No. 6. The showdown of the only two seniors in Saturday’s starting lineups resulted in the end of Langenkamp’s 10-match winning streak in singles dual-match play, which stretched all the way back to Feb. 29, 2004, when he fell in a match tiebreaker to Miami’s Jeremiah Fuller. The Wildcat senior moved to 3-0 in singles dual action this spring.
Just as Langenkamps’s groundstroke was sailing long on match point two courts away, Parbhu was finishing up a victory in his debut at No. 2 singles. The Irish sophomore, playing his first match after skyrocketing 63 spots to a career-high national ranking of 14th, beat Lock 6-1, 6-4 for the third clinching win of his career. Parbhu is 12-2 on the season and has won eight in a row in dual matches, dating back to March 17, 2005. The Notre Dame sophomore has now won 15 consecutive matches against opponents from the ITA’s Midwest Region, other than a defeat against his teammate, Bass, in the title match of the ITA Midwest Championships in October. Parbhu had a much easier time than in last year’s dual match, when he and Lock split a pair of tiebreakers before the American won a match tiebreaker.
King – who took classes at University College in Dublin last semester – then earned a singles victory in his first collegiate action since the 2004-05 season. He beat Dwyer – who came in with an 8-4 mark on the season – 6-3, 6-2 at No. 3.
In the longest match, Bass fought off a strong effort by Tempke, but eventually prevailed 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) over the German. The Irish junior – playing his first match since a meteoric 66-spot rise in the national singles rankings to a career high of #8 – improved to 14-1 on the season. He is now 10-0 against players from the Midwest Region and has won 14 straight against lower-ranked players. Bass also earned a 7-5, 6-1 victory against Tempke in the round of 16 of the Midwest Championships in the fall.
Saturday was the 75th all-time meeting between Notre Dame and Northwestern in men’s tennis, making the Wildcats the most-common opponent in Irish history until ND takes on Michigan State for the 75th time next month. Notre Dame now holds a 38-36-1 edge in the series, but has won in each of its last four trips to Evanston and has prevailed in seven of the last eight matches overall.
The Irish won their first dual match for the eighth time in the last 10 years and have now started 1-0 in each of the last seven seasons in which the first dual match was on the opponent’s home court.
Notre Dame has now won 43 in a row – a streak dating back to 1991 – when playing on the home courts of an opponent that is either unranked or ranked outside the national top 50. The Irish also are 24-1 in their last 25 matches against teams ranked outside the top 50 (regardless of location).
The Irish will head to Richmond – the hometown of head coach Bob Bayliss – to face the Cavaliers at 4 p.m. (EST) in the Country Club of Virginia. It will be the first time ND has taken on the nation’s top-ranked team since losing 7-0 on Feb. 26, 2004, at Illinois.
#26 Notre Dame 6, #51 Northwestern 1SinglesNo. 1: #8 Stephen Bass (ND) def. Christian Tempke (NU) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)No. 2: #14 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) def. Willy Lock (NU) 6-1, 6-4No. 3: Barry King (ND) def. Marc Dwyer (NU) 6-3, 6-2No. 4: Brett Helgeson (ND) def. Juan Gomez (NU) 6-0, 6-3No. 5: Ryan Keckley (ND) def. Matt Christian (NU) 6-2, retiredNo. 6: Adam Schaechterle (NU) def. #65 Eric Langenkamp (ND) 6-3, 6-0Order of Finish: 5, 4, 6, 2*, 3, 1DoublesNo. 1: Christian/Schaechterle (NU) def. #12 Keckley/Langenkamp (ND) 8-6No. 2: King/Parbhu (ND) def. Dwyer/Tempke (NU) 8-2No. 3: Bass/Helgeson (ND) def. Gomez/Lock (NU) 9-7Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3** - indicates clinching victory