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MEN’S TENNIS: ND shut out in Columbus

Deirdre Krasula | Monday, April 2, 2007

Notre Dame almost forgot how to lose, winning 11 straight meets and dropping only 14 matches over that stretch. But the Irish were forced to peel themselves off the pavement Friday night, falling 7-0 to Ohio State in Columbus.

“I’m still trying to get the number of the truck that hit us in Columbus,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Bayliss said. “[Ohio State] played aggressively and really well. They didn’t make many mistakes.”

The No. 3 Buckeyes jumped ahead in the match by winning doubles play, the 43rd time in their last 47 matches that they have won the doubles point.

Buckeyes Drew Eberly and Justin Kronauge defeated No. 7 Ryan Keckley and Sheeva Parbhu 8-6 at the No. 1 doubles position. Devin Mullings and Chris Klingemann then secured the doubles point for Ohio State with an 8-5 win over Barry King and Brett Helgeson. Notre Dame’s only glimmer of hope came when the No. 3 doubles team of Stephen Bass and Andrew Roth knocked off Steven Moneke and Bryan Koniecko 9-7.

With the doubles point in hand, Ohio State went on to sweep Notre Dame in singles play. No. 10 Moneke knocked off No. 8 Bass with a 6-1, 6-4 victory at the No. 1 spot. No. 25 Bryan Koniecko then defeated No. 54 Parbhu 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Third in line for the Buckeyes was No. 34 Mullings, who cruised past Helgeson with a 6-2, 6-0 victory.

Despite falling to Ohio State Friday night, the No. 5 Irish battled back to post a 5-2 win over No. 6 Illinois at home Sunday.

Bayliss said the win over the Fighting Illini somewhat redeemed the loss to the Buckeyes.

“If you lay an egg once a year and you bounce back they way we did today, it’s OK,” he said.

Illinois jumped ahead to the early 1-0 lead after taking the doubles point. Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe defeated Keckley and Parbhu 8-4. Marc Spicijaric and G.D. Jones clinched the doubles point with an 8-4 win over King and Helgeson.

Bayliss said he challenged his team to bounce back from the 1-0 deficit and they answered.

Roth was first off the courts for the Irish with a 6-1,6-2 rout of Jordan Knue. Keckley followed suit with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Brandon Davis.

Parbhu did not have as easy a win over Jones. The Irish junior dropped the first set 2-6, but rallied for the 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 win.

King clinched the win for he Irish with a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2 win over Spicijaric. After forcing the first set into a tiebreaker and folding, King came back aggressively for the win.

“Barry showed an aggressiveness that I haven’t seen before,” Bayliss said. “And to me it’s a sign of his maturity and growth as a player and as a competitor.”

Even with the win in Notre Dame’s name, the battle wasn’t over on the courts.

No. 8 Bass continued to battle with No. 6 Anderson at No. 1 singles. Bass dropped the first set 4-6 but fought back to take the second set 6-2. Down 5-4 in the third set with Anderson serving for match point, the senior broke serve to eventually take the set 7-5 and win the match.

Helgeson also put up a fight against No. 12 Rowe, but was unable to pull away with a victory as Rowe defeated him 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Despite losing to Ohio State Friday, Bayliss said that he was happy with his team’s performance this weekend.

“We knew we were playing two top-10 teams in three days and that’s a big load,” he said. “And we wanted to make sure we got at least once of the wins, and today we made that happen.”