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Men’s Tennis: Team falls to No. 4 Buckeyes in sweep

Peter Steiner | Monday, February 25, 2013

Facing its toughest opponent this year, No. 25 Notre Dame fell to No. 4 Ohio State, 7-0, on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

The Irish (6-5) were unable to take a point in the match, but they gave the Buckeyes (12-2) a run for their money at No. 2 and No. 6 singles in matches that came down to the third set.

“I thought that we competed pretty well in some of the lineup spots,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “In a couple of them, they simply had too much firepower for us, and it was hard to really quantify the competitiveness of the match. We just didn’t have answers for some of the things they were able to do.”

Irish freshman Quentin Monaghan was the biggest bright spot of the day for the Irish. Playing at No. 2 singles for the third time this spring season, the freshman took No. 2 Buckeyes junior Peter Kobelt down to the wire. After dropping the first set 6-3, Monaghan rallied to claim the second set, 7-5. In a super tiebreaker for the third set, he ultimately lost 14-12 against the second-ranked singles player in the nation.

“I thought Quentin Monaghan, who had a number of match points, competed great,” Bayliss said. “Quentin really just believes he has a chance to win no matter what the odds. He isn’t afraid to go for his shots when he has to, but, more importantly, he doesn’t take plays off.”

At No. 1 singles, Irish junior Greg Andrews also faced a top singles player in No. 62 Buckeyes junior Blaz Rola. Andrews competed well in the first set – losing 6-4 – before falling victim to Rola’s overwhelming game in the second set, 6-1.

“I thought Greg Andrews competed very hard and could have easily won the first set,” Bayliss said. “I do believe that Blaz Rola is probably the best player in college tennis.”

In the bottom half of the singles lineup, Notre Dame proved the toughest for Ohio State at No. 4 and No. 6 singles. Irish senior Michael Moore started his match at No. 6 singles out strong, taking the first set 6-3. The senior, however, then dropped the final two sets by the same margin. Irish junior Billy Pecor met a similar fate at No. 4 singles, but took four games in both sets.

The Buckeyes are the fourth top-10 ranked team the Irish have played. After defeating the Irish on Saturday, the Buckeyes played a similarly-ranked team in No. 24 LSU on Sunday. The Tigers were unable to take a set against the Buckeyes and only won 21 total games in the six singles matches. The Irish, meanwhile, took two sets and 43 games from the Buckeyes.

While the Irish lost 7-0, Bayliss said the matches against top teams are helping the team improve and prepare for rest of the season.

“I think we are improving,” Bayliss said. “I think we are learning on the fly, and we are competing better. While I was disappointed we didn’t have anything to show for our efforts against Ohio State, I’m encouraged with the play of a number of our players, and we’re doing certain things better.”

The Irish will have the entire week to prepare for its next match against No. 75 Wisconsin, who they will face on March 3 in Madison, Wis.

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu