Feb. 18, 2006
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -
Senior captain Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.), junior Ryan Keckley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph's H.S.), and freshman Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West H.S.) posted three-set victories to lead the 31st-ranked University of Notre Dame men's tennis team (7-4) to a come-from-behind 5-2 victory at #42 Michigan (5-3) Saturday evening in the Varsity Tennis Center. The Irish - who were without one of their top players in singles, junior Barry King (Dublin, Ireland/Gonzaga College), and have now won five in a row - will return to action on Friday, playing host to #12 Ohio State at 4 p.m. (EST) in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Notre Dame and Michigan continued a recent tradition of hard-fought contests decided eventually by the Irish coming out on top in several three-set affairs. In 2004, Notre Dame won four of five three-setters en route to a 5-2 win in Ann Arbor. A year ago, the Irish also prevailed in all but one of the five matches that went the distance to earn a 5-2 victory at home. This year, Notre Dame would take all three three-set matches after having fallen behind 2-0 and win by the same score again.
An injury to King - who normally plays Nos. 3 or 4 and was slated for the lower spot on Saturday - caused him to pull out of the singles portion, forcing Keckley and senior Eric Langenkamp (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale H.S.) to both slide up a spot in the lineup and calling on Buchanan to move into the No. 6 spot. All three of those players responded with victories, which allowed the Irish to prevail. Saturday continued Notre Dame's excellence this season in three-set affairs, as Irish players have combined for a 26-10 (.722) record in matches that have gone the distance.
Trailing 2-0, it was Notre Dame's top player, junior Stephen Bass
(Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School), who began the comeback by finishing off a 7-5, 6-2 triumph against Brian Hung of Hong Kong at No. 1. Bass - the eighth-ranked player in college tennis - avenged a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) loss to Hung in the semifinals of the 2004 ITA Midwest Championships and became the first Notre Dame player to reach 20 singles wins on the season, improving to 20-5, including 7-4 in dual action at No. 1.
Next Helgeson came back to prevail 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 over Andrew Mazlin in a battle of freshmen at No. 3. He moved to 15-4 on the season, including 8-3 in dual play. Helgeson is unbeaten in four three-set affairs.
Buchanan then came back to beat freshman Scott Bruckmann 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 at No. 6 to put Notre Dame within a point of victory. Soon thereafter, Keckley, a graduate of St. Joseph's High School in South Bend, finished the rally by knocking off 62nd-ranked Ryan Heller 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 4 to put ND up 4-2. The Irish junior improved to 12-2 on the season and leads the team in singles victories in dual action with a 10-1 mark. Keckley - now 5-1 on the season in three-set matches - earned his first career victory against a nationally-ranked player, becoming the eighth player on the current Irish roster to do so.
Notre Dame dropped the doubles point against a lower-ranked team for the first time this season, losing 8-6 decisions at Nos. 1 and 3. First off the court was the top match, where Hung and Matko Maravic - who were ranked 22nd in the nation in the preseason - prevailed over Keckley and King. It was the second year in a row that Hung and Maravic won a tight one at No. 1 in helping the Wolverines win the doubles point, as the pair took a tiebreaker in the final match remaining in 2005. Keckley and Langenkamp had registered a 9-7 victory against the Michigan duo in last fall's Tom Fallon Invitational.
Bruckmann and Steve Peretz then beat the Irish squad of Helgeson and sophomore Andrew Roth (Houston, Texas/Tenney School) by the same score at No. 3 to give Michigan the doubles point for the third consecutive time against Notre Dame. It was the first defeat for Roth - following six consecutive victories - since he was inserted into the lineup for the first time on Feb. 5.
Langenkamp and sophomore Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) avoided the sweep by winning a tiebreaker at No. 2 for a 9-8 (7-3) victory against Heller and Mazlin. The Notre Dame team is 4-0 together this season and 17-7 as a team during their careers. The senior continued to lead the Irish in both overall doubles wins (12-4 record) and victories in partnered play in dual matches (9-2).
Michigan went up 2-0 when 58th-ranked Maravic of Croatia beat #14 Parbhu 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2. It was a rematch of the quarterfinals of October's ITA Midwest Championships, when the Irish sophomore outlasted Maravic 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (11-9), 6-2 for the victory.
The final match on was the latest chapter in the recent series between Langenkamp and Peretz. In August, the Irish player won a match tiebreaker in the third round of the ITA Summer National Championships in Bloomington, Ind., en route to claiming the title. In September, Langenkamp won, this time by scores of 6-3, 6-1 at Notre Dame's Courtney Tennis Center in the Tom Fallon Invitational. On Saturday, the Notre Dame senior came through again, taking a match tiebreaker at No. 6 to win 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 1-0 (10-2).
Notre Dame beat Michigan for the fifth consecutive year and 15th time in the last 18 meetings, but the Wolverines still hold a hefty 41-26 advantage in the all-time series, due in large part to a 23-match winning streak bookended by Irish victories in 1960 and '90.
It was a matchup of two of the winningest programs in college tennis history, as Notre Dame brought its all-time win total to 1,020, which ranks seventh all-time. Michigan is eighth at 1,012.
#31 Notre Dame 5, #42 Michigan 2
No. 1: #8 Stephen Bass (ND) def. Brian Hung (M) 7-5, 6-2
No. 2: #58 Matko Maravic (M) def. #14 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) 6-3, 6-4
No. 3: Brett Helgeson (ND) def. Andrew Mazlin (M) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
No. 4: Ryan Keckley (ND) def. #62 Ryan Heller (M) 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
No. 5: #65 Eric Langenkamp (ND) def. Steve Peretz (M) 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 1-0 (10-2)
No. 6: Patrick Buchanan (ND) def. Scott Bruckmann (M) 1-6, 6-3, 6-1
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3, 6, 4*, 5
No. 1: Hung/Maravic (M) def. Keckley/King (ND) 8-6
No. 2: Langenkamp/Parbhu (ND) def. Heller/Mazlin (M) 9-8 (7-3)
No. 3: Bruckmann/Peretz (M) def. Helgeson/Andrew Roth (ND) 8-6
Order of Finish: 1, 3*, 2
* - indicates clinching victory