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Irish fall to Pepperdine, blank Pennsylvania

Deirdre Krasula | Monday, February 19, 2007

Friday’s match against Pepperdine was a rollercoaster of ups and downs.

No. 9 Notre Dame had convincing leads against the Waves but was unable to pull away with a win, losing 4-2 on the road.

The Irish fell behind 1-0 early in the ITA National Indoors match after dropping the doubles point. Senior Ryan Keckley and junior Sheeva Parbhu faltered at No. 1 doubles, losing 8-4 to Omar Altmann and Richard Johnson. Pepperdine clinched the doubles point when Andre Begemann and Mahmoud Kamel defeated Barry King and Brett Helgeson 8-5 at No. 2 doubles.

Despite falling behind, the Irish came out swinging in singles action.

Notre Dame jumped to a 2-1 lead when Parbhu and King grabbed victories at No. 2 and No. 5 singles, respectively. Parbhu trailed 3-0 in the first set but turned around to win it 7-5 and take the second set 6-1 for the win over Johnson. King followed in Parbhu’s tracks with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Altmann.

Stephen Bass could not hold on to Notre Dame’s lead at No. 1 singles. Bass took the first set 6-4 but lost his momentum dropping the next two sets 6-3, 6-3.

Number four singles played out in similar fashion as Keckley took the first set 6-1 from Bassam Beidas but could not do the same in the second and third set. Beidas defeated Keckley 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 to give the Waves the go-ahead point.

No. 6 singles marked the third match in which the Irish would take the first set but drop the match. Andrew Roth battled to a 7-5 win in the first set but ultimately fell 7-5, 3-6, 5-7 to Mahmoud Kamel to give Pepperdine the winning point.

“Some of our veterans didn’t quite get it done,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “It is uncharacteristic of our team but that’s the way it was.”

Notre Dame avenged its loss to Pepperdine with a 4-0 blanking of Pennsylvania. The Irish swept doubles play to take the early 1-0 lead and never looked back. Notre Dame proceeded to take straight set victories at Nos. 1, 3, and 4 singles. Keckley opened up play for the Irish with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Joseph Lok, and Helgeson followed with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Mikhail Bekker. Bass secured Notre Dame’s victory with a 6-2, 6-4 beating of Jason Pinsky.

The Irish finished off their weekend with a 4-1 win over No. 18 Texas.

Notre Dame again took the doubles point to jump ahead 1-0. Parbhu followed with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Milan Mihailovic at No. 2 singles.

Texas’ only glimmer of hope came at No. 3 singles when Helgeson dropped the match 6-2, 6-4 to Dimitar Kutrovsky, but Bass brought the Irish closer to victory with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Miguel Reyes Varela at No. 1 singles.

King battled sickness to take the win for the Irish. King – who had been suffering from a fever and soar throat – took the first match 6-3 from Josh Zavala. It looked like King might succumb to his fever in the second set but he rallied to win the tiebreaker 7-6 (4).

“He got out in front early and won the first set and you could see his strength kind of wane and he got broken back,” Bayliss said. “He got down in the tiebreaker and really hit some big shots and finished the match very aggressively.”

The Irish will return to South Bend to prepare for Michigan Friday. Bayliss said the team will focus on improving doubles and put the loss to Pepperdine behind them.

“There is a lot of tennis to be played,” he said. “We can’t worry too much about the immediate results. We have to worry about making our team better week to week and showing improvement so that we can play our best at the end of the year, that’s the goal.”