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Men’s Tennis: Win pushes Irish past Wolverines in all-time victories

Joe Meixell | Monday, February 20, 2006

After struggling earlier this season, Notre Dame extended its winning streak to five matches this weekend, improving to 7-4 with a win at Michigan.

The Irish topped the Wolverines 5-2 in a closely-fought match Saturday night between two of college tennis’ most winning programs. Notre Dame is No. 7 in all-time wins with 1,020 after Saturday’s victory, while Michigan is No. 8 with 1,012.

“It was a very tough, tense match,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “[Michigan] played extremely hard, they competed well – our guys, to their credit, took Michigan’s best shots and had a little more left at the end.”

The Irish were upset by a lower-ranked team in the doubles point for the first time this season, as they struggled to get on the boards and ended up losing two of the three matches.

“They were all over us,” Bayliss said. “They were approaching a lot – they’re very active at the net, and they were returning aggressively.”

Ryan Keckley and Barry King fell at No. 1 to Brian Hung and Matko Maravic, 8-6, and Scott Bruckmann and Steve Peretz clinched the point at No. 3 with an 8-6 win over Brett Helgeson and Andrew Roth.

“Michigan came out with early breaks in all three matches and really put us back on our heels … we got down in all three matches and never really caught up,” Bayliss said.

But Eric Langenkamp and Sheeva Parbhu pulled out a close win at No. 2, defeating Ryan Heller and Andrew Mazlin 9-8 (7-3) to avoid the sweep.

The Irish were down 1-0 going into the singles portion of the match and were soon down 2-0 after Parbhu lost to Maravic 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2.

However, Stephen Bass rallied to top Hung 7-5, 6-2 at No. 1 to put the Irish back on the boards. The team never looked back, reeling off four more singles victories for the win.

“Stephen deserves a ton of credit for fighting off Hung, who had beaten him in the semifinals of the regional championships a year ago [in 2004],” Bayliss said. Helgeson dropped his second set, but won 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 at No. 3 to tie the match at 2-2.

Captain Patrick Buchanan, playing at the No. 6 spot after King left with an injury, won 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 to put the Irish one match away from the win.

“I think [Patrick] started off slow,” Bayliss said. “I think [Bruckmann] put Patrick back on his heels but Patrick was able to step up in the court and begin to dictate.”

Keckley clinched the match at No. 4 with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Heller.

“Ryan has been so good for us this year,” Bayliss said. “He has become our strongest point. He broke serve to win the match at 5-3 in the third – he was actually up two service breaks at the end of the match. Once he got his bearings in the second set he really didn’t look back.”

Langenkamp closed out the match with a 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 1-0 (10-2) win at No. 5.

The Irish host Ohio State at 4 p.m. Friday at Eck Tennis Pavilion.