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Irish face tough doubles test

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 6, 2004

No. 49 Notre Dame faces another tough match this weekend, as they face No. 53 Purdue at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

The Boilermakers will travel to Western Michigan on Saturday and then face the Irish on Sunday at 1 p.m.

With a 2-0 record and wins against Ball State and Butler, the non-conference match to Purdue is not to be overlooked. A key point of this match will be doubles.

“Purdue always comes out strong when they play us especially in doubles,” senior tri-captain Matthew Scott said. “[There’s] always a tradition of really solid doubles; it was a focal point in practice this week.”

Irish coach Bobby Bayliss emphasized the doubles play as well.

“We worked really hard on doubles,” Bayliss said of his team’s preparation this week. “Purdue just absolutely pulverized us last year in doubles matches – they won all three, and did so convincingly.”

This year’s matchup presents a special challenge to the Irish, as their No. 1 doubles team of Luis Haddock and Ryan Keckley will not be playing. Haddock will be playing for Puerto Rico in the Davis Cup and Keckley remains out with an ankle injury suffered against Duke. Ranked No. 18 nationally, Haddock and Keckley are also the No. 1 and No. 6 singles players, respectively.

“The good news is that this is one of the deepest teams I’ve ever coached,” Bayliss said. “We are filling their shoes with Matt Scott, who is capable of playing the No. 1 spot and is regaining the form he had. He played his best match in a long time against Duke, so I expect Matt to play extremely well.”

Eric Langenkamp and Patrick Buchanan are also expected to see time to fill out the Irish roster. Langenkamp has yet to lose a match, and Buchanan won his singles match at No. 5 last year against Purdue in a 4-3 Irish victory.

Bayliss expressed confidence in the ability of his freshmen and in the bottom part of the lineup for this weekend’s match.

“Usually, when you lose a couple of players it’s catastrophic, especially at No. 1,” said Bayliss. “We’re a stronger team with them, but I don’t think that the task ahead of us is an impossible one.”

Scott agreed, as he and his teammates are ready for a tough match.

“This is a very important match,” Scott said. “We’re just looking to go out there and take care of business. … It’s disappointing for us but I think presents a challenge and the team is ready to rise to the challenge and meet it.”

But the Irish will have to do it without Haddock and Keckley.

“It’s some great motivation to beat a Big 10 team without two key players, a third of our starting lineup,” said Bayliss.

The Irish are set to face Purdue at 1 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.