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Men’s Tennis: Irish take down Wolverines

Megan Finneran | Monday, February 18, 2013

No. 29 Notre Dame saw their momentum swing in the right direction as they came out on top of an exciting 4-3 match against No. 21 Michigan on Saturday in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. 

This contest marked the highest ranked opponent that Notre Dame (6-4) has triumphed over this season. Prior to this weekend the squad fell in another close 4-3 match against No. 7 Kentucky.

“I think we were just more motivated after the loss to Kentucky, and our guys fought really hard to beat Michigan,” junior Ryan Bandy said.

The fight against the Wolverines (4-3) lasted more than three hours and required three sets in four of the singles matches and tiebreakers in two of the doubles contests.

Notre Dame took a rough first step, losing the doubles point. Junior Billy Pecor and freshman Alex Lawson successfully won in the No. 2 slot, but Michigan’s No. 9 senior Evan King and junior Shaun Bernstein took down the Irish pair of junior Greg Andrews and senior Spencer Talmadge. Wolverines sophomores Alex Petrone and Michael Zhu secured the doubles point by taking down Bandy and junior Matt Dooley.

In the three previous competitions when the Irish have lost the doubles point, they have lost the match. But this weekend for the first time the team carried lessons from previous losses and took the win solely in singles play.

“To be honest we didn’t do too much differently [to prepare],” senior Blas Moros said. “We suffered some really close losses, but they were all very good teams and I think we learned a lot from them.”

Moros added the first Irish point, soaring past sophomore Vlad Stefan 6-3, 6-1, on the No. 3 court to tie the overall score at one. Bandy then suffered an injury during the No. 6 match, falling 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, to junior Barrett Franks.  

Down 2-1, sophomore Wyatt McCoy stepped up in the No. 5 spot to take a comeback win, battling Bernstein 6-5, 7-6 (7-5) after being down 5-2 in the second set. Freshman Quentin Monaghan adapted exceptionally on the No. 2 court, beating Petrone 6-4, 1-6, 6-2, to give Notre Dame the lead for the first time.

Michigan’s No. 16 King lived up to his ranking in the No. 1 spot, taking down Andrews. The match was one of the longest of the afternoon, pushing to three sets and a tiebreaker until King took the win 6-2, 6-7 (10-12), 6-2.

Tied once again, Pecor fought to the last point against Zhu. Once again, play went to three sets and a tiebreaker on the No. 4 court until Pecor clinched his individual win 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4. This win gave Notre Dame its fourth point, securing the win for the Irish.

“We were able to step up when we most needed it and get that close win,” Moros said.

The Irish next travel to Columbus to face Ohio State on Saturday afternoon.

Contact Megan Finneran at mfinnera@nd.edu