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Big Red fall to Lords in NCAC final

Jamie McDonald  |  Photo by Curt Ashcraft
Jamie McDonald | Photo by Curt Ashcraft

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Denison's run through the NCAC Championship came to an end on Sunday afternoon as the Big Red fell to No. 1 seed Kenyon College, 5-2, at the Wynne Tennis Center in Indianapolis, Ind. to finish as the North Coast Athletic Conference runner-up.

In doubles play, both sides looked to be evenly matched from the start with each win coming by a margin of two games or less. In No. 1 doubles, the Lords took the first match when Weston Noall and Alex Rieger defeated DU's top-flight pairing of Kevin Brown and Blake Burstein, 8-6. KC also won No. 2 doubles when Austin Diehl and Jacob Zalenski edged Mitchell Thai and Jamie McDonald in a 9-8 (9-7) tiebreaker.

The same score followed in No. 3 play, but this time it worked in favor of the Big Red as Vlad Rotnov and Brian Weisberg defeated Michael Liu and Nicholas Paolucci, 9-8 (9-7), to trail the Lords by one match, 2-1, entering the singles competition.

On the singles courts, Rotnov fell to Kenyon's Zalenski, 6-3, 6-1, in top-flight play, but Patrick McGuigan cut the Denison deficit back to one, 3-2 when he posted a 6-2, 6-3 win over Bryan Yoshino on the No. 5 court.

After Thai dropped a 6-4, 6-3 match to Paolucci in No. 3 singles, McDonald took the first set in No. 2 singles from Diehl, 6-4, but Kenyon countered in the final two sets for the 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 victory.

Currently ranked No. 28 in the country, the Big Red will end their season at 13-5 overall in dual play. Their 13 wins are the most since 2016 when they finished the year at 13-7.