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MEN’S TENNIS: Langenkamp wins tourney

Kate Gales | Thursday, August 25, 2005

Although it’s unlikely that someone will ask Eric Langenkamp to write an essay about his summer vacation, the Notre Dame senior has a clear highlight – taking first place in the singles division of the ITA National Summer Championships.

The three-time monogram winner was 6-0 in dual-match play for the Irish in the No. 6 spot last season.

“It just showed that hard work pays off,” he said. “I played a lot of matches over the summer and worked really hard over the summer and to see that all culminate in a victory in the end really goes to show you that you put in the hard work and you can see results.”

For Langenkamp, the win was a milestone.

“I played it the year before,” he said. “It’s really the pinnacle of the collegiate tournaments and a lot of guys play it, so I wanted to go there and get some good competition and play the top players from different schools.”

Although Irish coach Bobby Bayliss was not involved in coaching Langenkamp for the event, he spoke with him briefly before the final match, which featured Lankegemp defeating Miami’s Eric Hechtman 6-3, 6-1 on Aug. 16.

“I did talk to him about an hour before the finals,” Bayliss said. “I called him on his cell phone and he happened to pick up right before they were going to play and gave him a scouting report on Eric Hechtman from Miami, but he did it all on his own.”

In his coach’s opinion, Langenkamp had a more well-rounded game than Hechtman.

“Hechtman’s a tough out,” Bayliss said. “He’s got a big dominant forehand and he doesn’t make many mistakes. But I felt like Eric has more variety in his games and can mix things up better and could also slice him wide to the backhand to keep him from running around hitting forehands.”

Langenkamp called the finals match the “ultimate highlight.”

“Really, the finals was a great match,” he said. “[Hechtman]’s played No. 2 for Miami, he’s a well known guy who was great in the juniors and a great college player. To beat him the way I did was just really the ultimate highlight of the whole tournament.”

En route to the title, Langenkamp also defeated top-seeded Paul Rose, Purdue’s No. 1 player from last season who has been ranked at No. 56 in ITA standings. However, a more meaningful win may have been over Ryan Preston, who played in the bottom half of Vanderbilt’s lineup last season.

“I actually lost to him earlier in the summer in the finals of the Ohio State college events,” Langenkamp said. “I came back and I beat him straight sets and that was really … I was really happy with that and it really boosted my confidence, beating a guy [I] just lost to.”

Although the tournament does not affect his record as a Notre Dame tennis player, Bayliss says the psychological benefits of the win have already been visible.

“I think it’s already affecting his play,” Bayliss said. “He’s hitting a bigger ball, he’s taking the ball earlier, he’s attacking more. We worked out individually today for about an hour, he and I, and I see a difference in the balls he’s hitting.”

As the fall season begins with the tournament circuit and the spring season approaches, Langenkamp will be able to build on his experiences from the summer’s tournament play.

“I think the confidence winning an event like that, particularly a national event, is going to vault him into another level of capabilities of the way he’ll feel about himself on the court,” Bayliss said. “He’s going to play with more confidence and I don’t think he’s going to be afraid of anything.”

Langenkamp said that the win affected him psychologically, both as an individual and team player.

“I’ll still have the same attitude of working hard but I really made a statement at [the tournament] and I turned some heads I think,” Langenkamp said. “[But] my attitude is, I’ll just use this victory to bring momentum, not just to myself but to the team coming into the fall … it’s just a really positive thing to bring into the school year.”