Feb. 2, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. --- For the second time in eight days, the University of Notre Dame men's tennis team beat the higher- ranked Kentucky. The Irish beat the Wilcats, 4-3, and remain undefeated in the spring season with a 6-0 record.
Those at the match may have felt like they were experiencing a bit of déjà vu, as the match was once again clinched for the Irish by freshman Eddy Covalschi in the third set of his match.
"It was a great win. I don't know that we played our best tennis at every single spot, but when we needed to battle, when we needed to fight, we did," said head coach Ryan Sachire. "Kentucky is a great team and a great competitor--we respect them. To beat them twice, and in this type of dramatic fashion, is a credit to our guys and our assistant coaches. They all did a good job."
Notre Dame won at No. 1 doubles after senior Greg Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson soundly beat Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai, 6-2. Kentucky's Ryuji Hirooka and Nils Ellefsen beat senior Ryan Bandy and sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger, 6-2. The doubles point came down to a set tiebreaker at No. 2, where senior Billy Pecor and freshman Josh Hagar took down Beck Pennington and Alejandro Gomez, 6-5 (7). The Irish were up, 1-0.
"It came down to No. 2 doubles, and Billy Pecor in particular was a superstar," Sachire said.
Kentucky gained a point of their own when Grant Roberts defeated Kenneth Sabacinski
at No. 6 singles, 6-3, 6-2. Schnurrenberger then fell at No. 4 to Jerry Lopez, 6-5.
The Irish pulled ahead in two matches with first-set tiebreaks. Hagar tied it up for the Irish, defeating Pennington, 6-5 (4), 6-3. Minutes later, Bandy defeated Gomez, 6-5 (1), 6-4, causing Notre Dame to go up 3-2 on the Wildcats.
Andrews then fell in a grueling match to Jomby at No. 1 singles. He lost a first-set tiebreak, 8-6 and then fell in the second set, falling, (ND) 6-5 (6), 6-4.
As in last week's match against Kentucky, the outcome came down to the third set of the final match. Once again, Covalschi came through and won the match for the Irish. He defeated Kevin Lai (ranked 97th in the country), 1-6, 6-5 (0), 6-4.
"In singles, the three guys who won just battled," Sachire explained. "All three of them had opportunities to let it go and to give in, but there was a fight and resolve today that was just awesome."
Notre Dame gets right back in the action Wednesday, when they travel to Champaign, Ill., to face off against Illinois at 7 p.m.
1. Tom Jomby (UK) def. Greg Andrews (ND) 6-5 (6), 6-4
2. Ryan Bandy (ND) def. Alejandro Gomez (UK), 6-5 (1), 6-4
3. Josh Hagar (ND) def. Beck Pennington (UK), 6-5 (4), 6-3
4. Jerry Lopez (UK) def. Eric Schnurrenberger (ND), 6-5 (4), 6-3
5. Eddy Covalschi (ND) def. Kevin Lai (UK), 1-6, 6-5 (0), 6-4
6. Grant Roberts (UK) def. Kenneth Sabacinski (ND), 6-3, 6-2
1. Greg Andrews/Alex Lawson (ND) def. Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK), 6-2
2. Billy Pecor/Josh Hagar (ND) def. Beck Pennington/Alejandro Gomez (UK), 6-5 (7)
3. Ryuji Hirooka/Nils Ellefsen (UK) def. Ryan Bandy/Eric Schnurrenberger, 6-2
--Lauren Chval, Media Relations Assistant