MEN’S TENNIS: Irish edge Spartans 4-3 in East Lansing
Kate Gales | Wednesday, February 23, 2005
A third match is a tense time for any tennis player. But when the score is tied 3-3 and an arena’s attention is focused on one match-up to decide the outcome of team play, the pressure is immeasurable.
Patrick Buchanan rose to the occasion Tuesday night in East Lansing, Mich., coming through in the final set of the final match to secure a 4-3 victory for the No. 23 Irish over No. 46 Michigan State.
“It came down to the last guys on the court and it was a very dramatic finish,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “[Buchanan] was up 5-3 in the third set … [before] the match went into tie breaker and Patrick eked it out 7-5 in the tiebreaker.”
The Spartans swept the Irish in doubles, getting out to an early 1-0 lead. Barry King and Buchanan were first off the courts, falling 8-4 at No. 3. Andrew Formanczyk and Nick Rinks, the nation’s No. 26 team, posted another 8-4 win over Brent D’Amico and Ryan Keckley at the top spot. After the point was clinched, No. 60 Sheeva Parbhu and Eric Langenkamp were unable to hold out at No. 2, losing by an 8-5 margin.
“I’ve got to give Michigan State a ton of credit,” Bayliss said. “They came out firing on all cylinders.”
Singles gave the Irish a chance to get back on the board, however. Parbhu, a freshman, bounced back from a disappointing finish in doubles to give the Spartans’ Adam Monich the first loss of his career at No. 4. He was first off the courts after finishing off his opponent 6-1, 6-0.
“The individual performances were outstanding,” Bayliss said. “Sheeva Parbhu deserves a lot of credit, beating an undefeated player.”
Stephen Bass, who did not play in the doubles matches, put the Irish ahead 2-1 with a 6-3, 6-1 thrashing at No. 2.
“Stephen Bass really rallied strongly and finished off Kevin Marshall in straight sets,” said Bayliss, noting that the sophomore trailed 3-0 in the first set. “Really, once he got back on track, he was never really challenged.”
No. 100 King then survived the third spot in straight sets, posting a 7-6(4), 6-2 victory.
“Barry King played extremely well in defeating Nick Rinks,” Bayliss said. “He probably could have won the first set a little easier, but when he got into the tie breaker he was pretty solid and then won the second set going away.”
But the Spartans struck back as Formanczyk defeated D’Amico in the top spot with a 7-6(5), 6-1 score. The usually dependable Irackli Ackhvlediani went down at No. 5, losing 6-4, 7-6(5).
By then, it all came down to Buchanan facing Brian Compton in the day’s final match.
“At that point we were just going into the third set [at No. 6],” Bayliss said. “Patrick played the entire third set knowing the outcome of the team match rested solely on his not-so-big shoulders … he played with a lot of heart today.”
Buchanan had his serve broken in the next-to-last point of the match, putting the outcome in jeopardy. But Bayliss never wavered in his belief in the third-year player.
“It takes a lot of guts to come back from stumbling like that, and he played maybe the best point of the match on the next point,” Bayliss said.
“To our credit we were able to regroup a little bit in singles and eek out a very close college tennis match,” he said. “Michigan State played an inspired match and played very well … I’m real proud of the effort our guys made.”
The team was glad to leave East Lansing with a victory, although the close match should prove to be a wake-up call. Notre Dame’s next opponent is No. 2 Virginia on Sunday.