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Irish drop two home matches

Kate Gales | Tuesday, March 2, 2004

The locker room was quiet Sunday afternoon.The tennis team had just dropped two close matches – one Saturday against No. 12 Ohio State and a crucial Big East conference decision to No. 33 Miami.There wasn’t much to say to the frustrated players.”We lost two matches we really needed,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said after Sunday’s loss. “We certainly really wanted to win them.”On Saturday, the Irish took the doubles point from the Buckeyes, winning at doubles for the third time this season. Although Barry King and Paul Hidaka dropped an 8-2 decision to Ohio State’s Brenton Contini and Dennis Mertens at No. 3, Luis Haddock and Matthew Scott defeated the Scott Green and Ross Wilson duo at No. 2 and Brent D’Amico and Ryan Keckley clinched the point with an 8-6 win over Joey Atas and Jeremy Wurtzman at No. 1. Ohio State’s doubles teams were ranked No. 26 and No. 19, respectively.But then the Irish uncharacteristically struggled for singles wins. The No. 1 matchup was closer than the score reflected, with Scott losing in a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 match to Wurtzman, the nation’s No. 2 singles player.At No. 2 singles, D’Amico defeated Atas – ranked No. 50 in the nation – in straight sets 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. Stephen Bass beat Chris Klingemann in a No. 3 match where the Irish freshman played tough.But things turned difficult for the Irish as Dennis Mullings defeated King in straight sets at No. 4 and Wilson came back to beat Keckley 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. The score stood tied at three as the No. 6 doubles match between Mertens and Eric Langenkamp continued well after the conclusion of the rest of the singles. Langenkamp battled back from a one-set deficit in a thrilling tiebreaker, but eventually lost in the third set. The loss clinched the match for Ohio State.”The match against Ohio State was our best match all year,” Bayliss said. “It’s unfortunate when you play your best, and it’s just not good enough.”The script was much the same Sunday, as the Irish took the doubles point, but lost 5-2 to Big East rival Miami. “This was the best we played in all three doubles all year,” said Bayliss. “Things are looking up there.”The D’Amico-Keckley duo beat Tim Krebs and Colin Purcell in the closest of the matches, winning 8-5. Haddock and Scott defeated Josh Hoyes and Jeremiah Fuller 8-3, and Bass and Langekamp defeated Josh Cohen and Eric Hechtman at No. 3.”I felt great after doubles,” Bayliss said. “You have to give Miami credit, they really stepped it up a level in singles play and just took it to us.”Bass proved to be the team’s most consistent singles player this weekend, taking Hoyes in straight sets with a score of 7-5, 6-2. Bass improved to 8-3 in dual matches this season, earning a 3-2 record playing up a spot at No. 3.However, No. 2 D’Amico and No. 4 King quickly left the courts with losses, and No. 1 Scott dropped a difficult match to Cohen. Pressure then moved to Keckely at No. 5, who kept Notre Dame’s hopes alive by battling into a third set against Purcell. But the Miami player prevailed, clinching the match for the Hurricanes. Attention was again focused on Langenkamp, who won a second-set tiebreaker to take the match against Fuller into a third set. The Hurricanes were again victorious, however, with Fuller defeating Langekamp in a third-set match tiebreaker. “In every loss, you have to find a way to make it positive,” Bayliss said. “Sometimes you have to bend a little before you toughen up – hopefully we respond to this in the right way.”The Irish have their last scheduled home match against Michigan State at 4 p.m. today at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

OHIO STATE 4, NOTRE DAME 3 at the ECK PAVILLION SINGLESNo. 1: Jeremy Wurtzman (OSU) d. Matthew Scott (ND) 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 No. 2: Brent D’Amico (ND) d. Joey Atas (OSU) 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 No. 3: Stephen Bass (ND) d. Chris Klingemann (OSU) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 No. 4: Devin Mullings (OSU) d. Barry King (ND) 6-2, 7-5 No. 5: Ross Wilson (OSU) d. Ryan Keckley (ND) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 No. 6: Dennis Mertens (OSU) d. Eric Langenkamp (ND) 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2

DOUBLES No. 1: D’Amico/Keckley (ND) d. Atas/Wurtzman (OSU) 8-6 No. 2: Haddock/Scott (ND) d. #19 Scott Green/Wilson (OSU) 9-7 No. 3: Brenton Contini/Mertens (OSU) d. King/Paul Hidaka (ND) 8-2