When it comes to sports, officiating can be a fickle thing.

College tennis takes a unique approach to enforcing the rules by allowing athletes to call the lines – determining whether a ball hit by their opponent is in or out.

Unfortunately, Michigan sophomore Matko Maravic experienced the negative side of this stipulation in his bitter quarterfinal loss at the 2005 Wilson/ITA Midwest Regional Championships yesterday. Maravic – who was the No. 3 seed – had won his three previous matches on Saturday and Sunday. His opponent, No. 5 Sheeva Parbhu of Notre Dame, will move on to Tuesday’s semifinals after barely edging out Maravic in three sets, 6-7(4), 7-6(9), 6-2.

Maravic had match point in hand three times in the second set as it went to tiebreak. But, with his own victory looming, a ball came across the net – arguably nipping the line – and Maravic called it out. Facing elimination, Parbhu appealed the call and the official ruled against Maravic, evening up the match yet again.

“I thought it was out, too,” Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. “Matko made a good call, but the umpire chose to overrule it. If she hadn’t done that, it would have been his match.”

Maravic started off the match bringing with him the momentum from his most recent wins. But Parbhu was coming off equal success over the weekend and equalled Maravic’s intensity at the start. Eventually, Maravic slowed down, playing a below-average game while holding the serve. He also lost a break point, leaving Parbhu up two sets. The middle of the first set saw Parbhu make a few mistakes that Maravic capitalized on.

“He hung in there,” Berque said. “(Maravic) played a little more solid, a little smarter at the end of the first set and made a few tactical adjustments. (Parbhu) gave him an opening and Matko jumped on it.”

The second set stayed evenly matched throughout, the players holding both their ground and their serves to force yet another tiebreak. Maravic battled throughout the set despite experiencing some painful back spasms that needed to be treated by the trainer. Still, Maravic recovered and found himself leading the tiebreak 8-7 when his call was overruled. This allowed Parbhu to get his foot back into the door – eventually taking the tiebreak, 11-9.

“It was definitely the momentum turnaround,” Maravic said. “I was maybe thinking about it a little too long. The match was supposed to be over, and I wasn’t really able to get back into it again.”

Following the upsetting decision that stole the win away from Maravic, Parbhu proceeded to run away with the third set. Fueled by the emotional 180 turn, Parbhu took the final set in decisive fashion, 6-2, and took the match along with it.

“I think (Maravic) will be OK but I’m sure he’s upset about it today,” Berque said. “He can really compete as hard as he can and emotionally put everything out on the court. When its over, he’s upset for a short while and then he bounces back very quickly. I think it’s very unique to be able to do that.”

Although making it to the finals of this tournament would have solidified Maravic’s place in the ITA National Indoor Championships, he will move on with the rest of the team. Michigan and Maravic will look ahead to the Big Ten Singles Championships starting Nov.. 3 in East Lansing and returning home on Jan. 21 to face Western Michigan.

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