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MEN’S TENNIS: Irish stay busy, notch victories over break

Rama Gottumukkala | Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Spring break is usually a time to catch some sunshine and much-needed rest and relaxation. The Irish men’s tennis team found both of the latter rare during the past ten days. But they did catch plenty of sun in several contested outdoor matches.

Transitioning to outdoor play for the first time this spring, No. 18 Notre Dame (13-4) competed in four dual-matches and sent four doubles teams to compete in the prestigious Pacific Coast Doubles Championships. The Irish won three matches against St. Joseph’s (3-5), No. 68 William and Mary (4-10) and No. 27 Rice (9-4). Their only loss came to No. 55 Boise State (15-5) in the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic.

In their first outdoor match of the season, Notre Dame easily rolled past St. Joseph’s in a 7-0 decision. The two doubles points were closely contested, but the Irish had no problems in singles play. In a match that heavily favored the Irish, the team collectively dropped just 20 total games in the victory.

The rest of the team’s matches during break were not quite as easy. Competing in the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic, Notre Dame won their first round match against William and Mary in a close 4-3 decision.

Placed as the second overall seed for the event, the Irish came out strong against William and Mary on March 10. Winning both doubles matches and getting victories in the first two singles contests, the Irish jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. But William and Mary won three straight three-set victories to close the gap. Sophomore Barry King beat Colin O’Brien 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the final match on court to seal the victory for Notre Dame.

Unfortunately, the Irish came up just short the following day against Boise State, dropping a 4-3 decision. The match lasted more than four hours and featured five three-set singles matches. Winds of greater than 20 miles per hour added problems for both teams in the marathon match.

Although the Irish fell behind 3-1 early, King keyed a comeback by posting a 7-6, 2-6, 6-1 victory over Matias Silva at the No. 3 slot. Victories from Stephen Bass and junior Eric Langenkamp helped notch the score at 3-3 before the decisive last singles match.

Boise State Senior Ikaika Jobe topped Irish freshman Sheeva Parbhu with a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 victory that gave the Broncos the win.

The down-to-the-wire drama didn’t stop there for the Irish. Saturday, Notre Dame’s match against Rice again came down to a hotly contested 4-3 victory. This time, the Irish clinched the all-important fourth point.

Again playing the final match on court, King clinched the match for the Irish with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 victory over Rice’s Ben Harknett. The Irish fell behind 2-0 to the Owls early, but a 6-1, 6-3 victory by Parbhu keyed the Irish comeback.

Among a talented pool of competitors, Notre Dame also played well at the Pacific Coast Doubles Championships, advancing three of their four duos to the round of 32 in the 128-team draw.

The doubles team of Langenkamp and Parbhu advanced to the final 16 before losing to Pepperdine’s No. 1 team. Bass and King beat the Texas A&M team of Matt Bain and Yevgeny Supeko 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in their opening round match and then upset UCLA’s No. 3 team of Chris Lam and Philipp Gruendler 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-6). The duo’s run was ended in the round of 32 by Rice’s No. 2 team, Konstantin Haerle and Filip Zivojinovic, in an 8-4 decision.

Senior captain Brent D’Amico and sophomore Ryan Keckley beat Marco Amorico and Jared Kobren 6-1, 6-2 before losing 8-6 to Fresno State’s No. 1 team, Jakub Cech and Sergui Modoc in the round of 32.

The Irish next take to the courts against No. 3 Illinois Thursday.

outdoor home match of the spring season.