Feb. 22, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After trailing 2-0, the 50th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (7-2) won the final five matches remaining on the court, including four three-setters, in rallying for a 5-2 victory over #40 Southern Methodist (3-4) Sunday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. For the second time in as many days, the Irish defeated a higher-ranked team, doing something they accomplished just twice throughout all of last season.
The Mustangs appeared to have the advantage when they took the first singles match off the court to take a 2-0 lead. At that juncture, SMU was leading in two of the other matches remaining, while a third had split sets.
The Irish got on the the scoreboard with a 6-4, 7-5 victory from junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School) at No. 3 against Paul McNaughton, who played the first two years of his collegiate career at Notre Dame before transferring to SMU. McNaughton was 7-7 in singles (no dual matches) and 12-22 (6-11 dual, mostly at No. 3) in doubles as a member of the Irish.
Notre Dame then was victorious in all four of the three-set matches. First done was freshman Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s H.S.), who was playing singles for just the second time this spring after battling ankle injuries. He beat Peter Oredsson of Sweden 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 at No. 6.
Freshman Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) then put the Irish within a point of victory by defeating Alex Skrypko of Belarus 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 at No. 4. Bass is 13-4 this season, including 7-2 in dual matches. He improved to 6-0 in three-set affairs.
It was senior tri-captain Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris), ranked 68th nationally in singles, who provided the clinching win, rallying from being down a set and 4-1 in the second to beat #40 Gwinyai Chingoka of Zimbabwe 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 at No. 2. Scott is 16-7 this season, including four wins over top-65 players. Twelve of Scott’s 23 singles matches this season have been undecided after two sets. He holds a 5-2 record in three sets and a 2-3 mark in match tiebreakers.
Sophomore Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) completed the comeback by rallying for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Fede Murgier of Argentina at No. 5. Langenkamp is 16-3 this season, including 7-1 in spring action.
The doubles point was just as close as the singles contests. It came down to a tiebreaker in the No. 3 match, with Oredsson and Skrypko finally prevailing over Stephen Bass and freshman Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College). The Mustang pair broke serve to take a 7-5 advantage and have an opportunity to serve out the match, but the Irish broke back at love and eventually forced a tiebreaker after fighting through three deuces at 7-8. The teams split the first two points of the tiebreaker before Oredsson and Skrypko took control, going on to a 7-2 victory.
Johan Brunstrom and Henrik Soderberg, Swedes comprising the No. 39 team in college tennis, posted an 8-2 win over D’Amico and Keckley in the first match off the court. Haddock and Scott struck back with an 8-3 victory over Chingoka and McNaughton at No. 2 to put the fate of the initial point of the match in the hands of the No. 3 teams. Haddock and Scott are 6-1 this season and 10-3 in their careers as a pair.
Doubles injuries put both teams down a key starter for the singles portion of the match. King was slated to play No. 5 for Notre Dame, but had to sit out, while SMU’s injury came to its No. 3 player, Soderberg. Keckley and Oredsson were penciled in at the No. 6 position, and the rest of the players for each squad were shifted up to fill the gaps in the lineup.
In the first match completed, 91st-ranked Brunstrom defeated an ailing Haddock 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1. The Irish senior suffered an injury in Saturday’s upset of #37 Northwestern on the road and was questionable for Sunday’s contest.
Notre Dame and SMU have a recent history of tight matches, as the Mustangs produced 4-3 wins in both 2001 and ’03 over the Irish.
The Irish have won four matches in a row, including a 5-2 victory over #37 Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday.
Notre Dame has a big weekend ahead, as the Irish will travel to defending national champion #1 Illinois on Thursday for a 4 p.m. (EST) match. The Illini have won 42 consecutive dual matches, which is just three shy of the NCAA record (Stanford, 1997-99). Illinois has won all 25 matches at home since the last Irish visit, when #6 Notre Dame upset the #5 Illini 4-3 on March 7, 2002.
After taking on the Illini, the Irish will return home for two more important matches. Ohio State, ranked 16th in the nation, will come to town on Saturday for a 1 p.m. (EST) contest, while BIG EAST rival #34 Miami will visit the following day for a Noon match.
#50 Notre Dame 5, #40 SMU 2
No. 1: #91 Johan Brunstrom (SMU) d. Luis Haddock (ND) 6-1, 6-2
No. 2: *#68 Matthew Scott (ND) d. #40 Gwinyai Chingoka (SMU) 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
No. 3: Brent D’Amico (ND) d. Paul McNaughton (SMU) 6-4, 7-5
No. 4: Stephen Bass (ND) d. Alex Skrypko (SMU) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2
No. 5: Eric Langenkamp (ND) d. Fede Murgier (SMU) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
No. 6: Ryan Keckley (ND) d. Peter Oredsson (SMU) 6-4, 1-6, 6-2
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 6, 4, 2*, 5
No. 1: #39 Brunstrom/Henrik Soderberg (SMU) d. D’Amico/Keckley (ND) 8-2
No. 2: Haddock/Scott (ND) d. Chingoka/McNaughton (SMU) 8-3
No. 3: *Oredsson/Skryko (SMU) d. S. Bass/Barry King (ND) 9-8 (7-2)
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3*
* denotes clinching match