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Keckley helps seal victory at Ball State

Kate Gales | Monday, March 29, 2004

Talent. Poise. Youth.

No, it’s not the Miss Teen USA pageant, it’s the bottom of the men’s tennis lineup. Three freshmen and a sophomore came through for the Irish Saturday, rallying from a defeat in doubles and the sickness of two top players to win the match 4-3 against Ball State.

“A lot of credit goes to a lot of young guys today,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said.

The underclassmen have added depth to an experienced Irish lineup and have contributed to the 12-7 record of the team.

“Ryan Keckley clinched the match and deserves an awful lot of credit,” Bayliss said of the freshman, who plays at No. 5 singles. “He really played well under pressure.”

The Irish dropped the initial point of the match, with only ailing Luis Haddock and Matthew Scott able to claim victory at No. 2.

“We did not play a very good doubles point,” Bayliss said. “I wasn’t very excited about our level. … I felt we could win the doubles point and I still think we probably should have.”

Scott was forced to remove himself from the singles lineup after the doubles matches. Haddock, ranked 80th in the nation, played but was visibly under the weather.

“He really sort of faded after the second set,” Bayliss said. “That was disappointing for him, I’m sure, but he gave us a great effort.”

Brent D’Amico moved to the No. 2 spot, but lost in two close sets.

Luckily, the bottom of the Irish lineup was a solid foundation for the victory.

Bayliss was full of praise for Steven Bass, normally a No. 4 player who has seen considerable time at No. 3. Against the Cardinals, he won 6-1, 6-1 at that position.

“Steven Bass played unbelievably well in singles,” Bayliss said.

Bass is on a hot streak, winning 10 of his last 12 matches and improving to 14-4 in the dual-match season. He is 20-6 overall in his first season at Notre Dame.

“He has a hard time normally finishing someone off early, and he did a great job with Patrick Thompson, who usually plays No. 2,” Bayliss said.

Barry King and Eric Langenkamp won in straight sets at No. 4 and No. 6, respectively.

“What is probably good to see is the ability to rally while we’re down a point,” Bayliss said.

The Irish go on the road again for a Sunday match against Virginia Tech.