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Men’s Tennis: ND defeats Maryland after loss to Ohio State

Megan Finneran | Sunday, March 4, 2012

Notre Dame ended the weekend with many individual successes in the Eck Tennis Pavilion, closing with a 5-2 loss to No. 2 Ohio State and a 5-2 win over Maryland, bringing the Irish to 12-6 overall, boasting a record of 8-2 at home.

The Buckeyes proved their status as second best in the country Saturday morning, but the Irish did not go down without a fight. With six ranked members in the singles position — No. 6 Blaz Rola and two ranked doubles teams — including No. 1 Blaz Rola and Chase Buchanan, the Buckeyes came in carrying a powerful rank. This did not stop the Irish, however, from taking two points in the match.

The No. 2 pair of seniors Casey Watt and Niall Fitzgerald marked an exciting start to the day, taking down No. 28 ranked Devin McCarthy and Ille Van Engelen, 8-5. The 8-6 victory in the No. 3 slot from senior Sam Keeton and sophomore Billy Pecor clinched the doubles point for Notre Dame.

Pecor walked away from the match with a memorable win, triumphing over No. 44 Devin McCarthy in the No. 4 singles spot 4-6, 6-3, 1-0. The win marked Pecor’s first one over a top-50 opponent in his career.

“I’ve been playing better and better over the course of the season. I’m glad to see things are coming together,” Pecor said.

Ohio State took each of the remaining five singles matches to close out the day.

“We knew they were a really good team and if we were going to win we would have to play our best. We bounced back well Sunday,” Watt said.

The Irish met the Terrapins on Sunday for the first time since 1978, when Maryland won 8-1. This time around, Notre Dame turned the tables with a 5-2 win.

“We started off shaky against Maryland in the doubles but came back and had some very strong singles performances,” Pecor said.

The morning began with a rough start when Notre Dame could only put together one win in doubles play. The No. 2 pair of sophomore Greg Andrews and junior Spencer Talmadge put away Maryland’s Tommy Laine and Vlad Stefan 8-5, but the combination of close matches in the No. 1 slot for Watt and Fitzgerald and the No. 3 team of Keeton and Pecor ended in a 9-7 and 9-8 loss, respectively, costing the Irish the doubles point.

“We had a slow start with doubles but we toughed out a couple singles matches,” Watt said.

Following the doubles loss, the team showed no signs of

hesitation to turn the match around. The Irish took five consecutive points in singles play to clinch the win. On the No. 3 court, Keeton wasted no time putting away his opponent 6-3, 6-3. Pecor and junior Blas Moros followed suit, beating Maryland’s Tommy Laine 7-5, 6-1 and Jesse Kiuru 6-3, 7-6. In the No. 1 slot, Watt recovered from a difficult first set against No. 91 Maros Horny to finish 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, bringing the Irish to an overall score of 4-1 to seal the victory.

Andrews further progressed the Irish lead with his 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 sets in the No. 2 position. Junior Michael Moore concluded the weekend in a head-to-head three sets, going 4-6, 7-5, 4-6.

“It’s a good feeling to go into our spring break trip with a win,” Watt said.

The Irish take a recess from competition before reconvening in Tampa, Fla. to face South Florida on March 17 at 1 p.m.

Contact Megan Finneran at mfinnera@nd.edu