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Men show strength in doubles

Kate Gales | Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Sun. Sand. And quite a bit of love.The Irish kept true to the ideal spring break formula, heading to California for the prestigious Pacific Coast Doubles tournament and then to Alabama for the Blue Gray National Collegiate Classic tournament.”It’s a great event,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said of the tournament, held for the last 115 years in LaJolla, Calif. “All the great players in the history of the game play it, it’s an event that’s open to pros, college players, really anyone good enough to enter.”It proved a valuable experience for Notre Dame, and the Irish proved themselves worthy. No. 1 doubles team Brent D’Amico and Ryan Keckley advanced to the quarterfinals before losing 6-4, 6-4 to Patrick Briaud and Balazs Veress, the No. 1 team for No. 29 California.At No. 2, a potent pair of senior tri-captains – Luis Haddock and Matthew Scott – came close to an upset in the second round of the tournament. Matched against Ryan Moore and Nick Rainey, the 2002 national champions from USC, they eventually lost in three sets to the now-professionals.Steven Bass and Eric Langenkamp rebounded from losing their first match to reach the consolations finals, where they lost to the tournament’s No. 2 seeded team from Stanford. “We changed partners, right now [we] have three doubles teams ranked nationally in the top 40,” Bayliss said of the team’s doubles resurgence. “We had a change in personnel, and I think the chemistry has been right with these changes, they’ve been very effective together.”In the Blue Gray, the Irish posted an early decisive victory before losing their next two matches. They beat No. 30 Fresno State 4-0, with the No. 2 and 3 doubles team clinching the initial point and Haddock, Bass and King recording singles victories to secure the win. The Irish lost to eventual tournament champion, Virginia Commonwealth, 4-0 in the next match. In consolation play, they lost a 4-3 contest to Mississippi State in a hard-found battle that lasted nearly five hours. “If you look at the teams that we’ve played over last stretch of matches – Illinois, OSU, Miami and Michigan State – to come back from that and turn around and play these guys … we’ve played some reasonably good teams in a relatively short span of time,” Bayliss said.