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Men’s Tennis in middle of a bad dream

Kate Gales | Friday, February 27, 2004

“There were times,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said, “I thought I was in the middle of a bad dream.”The Irish were swept 9-0 yesterday by No. 1 Illinois, the defending NCAA champions and a team that Bayliss will always remember. “This was the greatest display of offensive tennis I have ever been a witness to in a college setting,” Bayliss said. “They are for real.”The Irish have been plagued by nagging injuries, and senior tri-captain Luis Haddock and sophomore Eric Langenkamp were sidelined for Thursday’s contest. “They [Illinois] played well enough that it wouldn’t have mattered if we had everybody,” Bayliss said. “It didn’t affect the outcome, and it probably wouldn’t have affected the score.”Junior tri-captain Brent D’Amico came closest to putting the Irish on the board, taking the first set of the No. 2 match against Michael Calkins into a tiebreaker. The junior, who is recovering from shin splints, eventually lost to the nation’s No. 54 player 7-5, 6-1.At No. 1, senior Matthew Scott lost to No. 20 Phil Stolt 6-3, 6-3, and freshman Stephen Bass dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision to No. 100 Ryler DeHeart at the third spot.King lost to No. 64 Chris Martin 6-3, 6-2 at No. 4, and Ryan Keckley was defeated by G.D. Jones 6-2, 6-1 at No. 5. Patrick Buchanan rounded out the top six with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Pramod Dabir.”I think Brent played pretty well, and Barry [King] extracted himself from a 4-0 deficit and played well from that point on,” Bayliss said. “But you could just see the confidence in the Illinois players’ eyes.”At doubles, D’Amico and Keckley lost to No. 8 Brian Wilson and Stolt 8-5 at the top spot. No. 18 Michael Calkins and Martin defeated Scott and Bass 8-4 at two, and DeHeart and Jones topped King and Paul Hidaka 8-5.Illinois has won 43 consecutive matches and are two matches away from tying the record held by Stanford. Illinois has won the last 26 home contests.”We were a deer in the headlights today, they were that good,” Bayliss said. “I don’t say that very often … but I have never coached against a team that played as well as this team played, and I’ve done this for a few years – 35, to be exact.”The Irish prepare to take on No. 12 Ohio State Saturday at 2 p.m. and No. 33 Miami Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. “It’s a matter of getting back on the right foot and being positive,” said Bayliss, who expects to practice lightly today in preparation for the weekend.