Oct. 26, 2004
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Notre Dame sophomore Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) saw his singles run in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Championships end Tuesday morning with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) defeat at the hands of #94 Brian Hung, who was playing on his home courts at the Varsity Tennis Center. Bass, the first Irish player to reach the semis in the event since 1999, was the last remaining player alive in the tournament, which features the top players in the region.
Hung, a sophomore from Hong Kong who played Nos. 2 and 3 for Michigan last spring, started quickly in both sets, jumping out to 4-1 advantages on both occasions. Bass, the No. 15 seed, fought back in both sets to tie the score at 4-4, but Hung then got a service break and held to end the opening frame. In the second, the 12th-seeded Wolverine eventually prevailed in a tiebreaker to advance to the title match, to be played later Tuesday, against second-seeded and 95th-ranked Ryler DeHeart of Illinois. With their victories, Hung and DeHeart earned automatic berths in the 32-player field of the second leg of the collegiate grand slam, the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
“Stephen had a lot of opportunities today, but he just could not capitalize on them, said Notre Dame assistant coach Todd Doebler. “Brian Hung played well, and he was effective at pressuring Stephen. Overall, it was a good tournament for him. Stephen definitely took a good step toward establishing himself as one of the top players in the region, even though he is shooting for higher things than that.”
Bass concluded his fall slate with a 10-3 mark, including wins against #56 Paul Rose of Purdue and #97 Joey Atas of Ohio State. All three of his defeats came against top-100 players.
Hung’s run to the final featured a pair of wins against Irish players, as he also topped Notre Dame sophomore Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College) in the round of 16 by scores of 6-2, 6-4. He also upset the tournament’s top seed, #23 Jakub Praibis of Indiana, in the quarterfinals.
Bass, who came into this weekend having lost two in a row after opening the fall 6-0, defeated Indiana’s Neil Kenner 6-4, 6-3 in the opening round before topping Octavian Nicodim, a qualifier from Louisville, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) in the second round. In Saturday’s round of 16, the Irish sophomore rallied from losing the first set and being down 4-2 in the third for a 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 win against another Hoosier, freshman Mike McCarthy. On Sunday, Bass topped 11th-seeded Atas 6-2, 6-2 to be the 13th Irish player in the last 15 years to reach the semis in the tournament.
The semifinal appearance by Bass put a cap on the superlatives for Notre Dame in the Midwest Championships, which feature 16 nationally-ranked players in the singles draw. The Irish took up three of the eight qualifying spots into the main draw (more than any other team) to have a total of eight student-athletes among the 64-player singles field. No other school had more than six in this year’s tournament, and no team other than the Irish has qualified more than six in the main draw since the current format was adopted three years ago (Notre Dame also had seven participants last fall). All but one Irish player was victorious in the opening round, giving Notre Dame by far the most players (seven) in the round of 32. The Irish had four in the final 16 of the singles draw, also the most of any school.
Junior Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.), who was not regularly in the Irish lineup last spring, had a breakout performance in the tournament, as he won three qualifying matches and then was victorious twice more in the main draw to reach the round of 16. His run culminated with a 6-4, 6-4 upset of Northwestern’s top player, 69th-ranked Tommy Hanus, Buchanan’s first career win against a ranked player. He fell in the third round to top-seeded Praibis, but still boasts a 10-3 career record in the Midwest Championships.
King also registered an upset in the singles draw, defeating #50 Chris Martin of Illinois 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to reach the round of 16 before falling to Hung. Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) was one of only two freshmen remaining in the final 16 before he lost to eventual semifinalist Devin Mullings of Ohio State.
Three other Notre Dame players – Senior co-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s School [TX]), junior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.), and sophomore qualifier Irackli Akhvlediani (Vienna, Austria/Vienna International School) – won first-round contests, while another qualifier, rookie Andrew Roth (Houston, Texas/Tenney School), dropped a close two-setter against Praibis in the opening round.
In doubles, D’Amico and Langenkamp advanced to the round of 16 before losing 8-6 to the tournament’s No. 2. All three of Notre Dame’s other entrants fell in the opening round against seeded foes.
The Irish will return to action with their final fall tournament this weekend, as eight players will head to the Crimson Tide Fall Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala., from Friday through Sunday. Bass will not participate, instead electing to concentrate on his studies after missing two additional days of classes due to his deep singles run in the Midwest Championships.
The ITA Midwest Championships is an indoor singles and doubles tournament for the top players in the Midwest Region – which consists of every Big Ten Conference team but Iowa and Penn State, as well as other area schools. It is one of nine regional tournaments taking place across the country this month. The event consists of main draws of 64 in both singles and doubles, with eight spots in singles reserved for winners of a 64-player qualifying bracket. The singles finalists and doubles champions earn automatic entry into the second leg of the collegiate grand slam, the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, slated for Nov. 4-7 in the same venue.
ITA Midwest Championships
Singles – Quarterfinals
 #94 Brian Hung (Michigan) def.  Stephen Bass (Notre Dame) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)
Note: Seedings are in brackets preceding national rankings, which precede names.