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Irish knock off two high-ranked foes in weekend

Kate Gales | Monday, February 23, 2004

Bobby Bayliss, Notre Dame’s normally stoic coach, threw his clipboard in the air as his tennis players mobbed him following a tight match at Northwestern Saturday.The usually composed senior tri-captain Matthew Scott pumped his fists in the air and bent backwards with exhilaration after clinching the victory against Southern Methodist Sunday.The Irish have been on fire lately. But this weekend’s key victories over No. 37 Northwestern and No. 40 Southern Methodist have shown that No. 50 Notre Dame has the spark to take the team to the next level.”They were very similar matches,” Bayliss said. “We lost a disappointing doubles match and came back in singles – the script is the same.”Senior tri-captain Luis Haddock was instrumental in the victory over Northwestern. “He showed so much poise,” Bayliss said of Haddock who battled a groin injury but defeated Tommy Hanus 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.”He was out there on one leg – literally,” Bayliss said. “The only way for him to win was to hit first serves.”Scott registered a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Church Perrin and junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico defeated Christian Tempke 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Freshman Stephen Bass beat Willy Lock 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 1-0 (10-8) and classmate Barry King easily defeated Matt Christian 6-2, 6-2. Eric Langenkamp suffered his first loss in this year’s dual-match play to Adam Schaechterle in a 6-3, 6-4 decision.The Irish were down early after the doubles point. Although D’Amico and Ryan Keckely defeated Perrin/Justin Hoeveler 9-8 (9-7), Haddock and Scott fell 8-6 and Bass and King lost 8-5.”It says a lot for our conditioning that 16 hours later, we were able to come back and play like this,” Bayliss said of the quick turnaround between matches. The Irish were comfortable before an energetic home crowd on Sunday. “You come into this place, you better bring your lunch, because you’re in for a fight,” Bayliss told his team in the locker room after the match.The Irish again lost in doubles, with No. 1 D’Amico and Keckley falling to Johan Brunstrom and Henrik Soderberg 8-2. Haddock and Scott defeated Gwinyai Chingoka and former Notre Dame player Paul McNaughton 8-3, but Bass and King lost to Peter Oredsson and Alex Skrypko 9-8 (7-2).After the doubles point, King left the courts with an injured arm. He is expected to play Thursday but was replaced in the lineup by Langenkamp. Keckley, who had not finished a singles match this season due to recurring ankle injuries, took the No. 6 spot.The first match completed was an injured Haddock at No. 1, who lost to Brunstrom 6-1, 6-2. With the Mustangs up 2-0 and leading in two other matches, the outcome looked grim for the Irish.The Mustangs, however, could not prepare for the ferocity of D’Amico’s play against McNaughton, a former teammate. Despite a nagging shin injury, D’Amico took the point in straight sets with a score of 6-4, 7-5. Keckely then regained focus after a challenging second set and defeated Oredsson 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 at No. 6.Bass displayed his usual tenacity, beating Alex Skrypko 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 at No. 4. He improved to 6-0 in three-set matches this year. The attention then focused on Scott, who had lost the first set to Chingoka 6-3. Scott’s precision placing of the ball proved to be the difference in an emotional match-clinching 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory. Langenkamp defeated Fede Murgier 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to rally at No. 5.”We’ve been playing some good tennis,” Bayliss said. “It’s not always pretty but we’re able to step up when it matters most.”The Irish will travel to No. 1 Illinois Thursday. The defending national champions have last lost at home since losing to Notre Dame in 2002.