Feb. 11, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Fighting Irish men's tennis team earned their name tonight at the away match against No. 30 Northwestern. Notre Dame battled to give the Wildcats their first home loss of the season, 4-1.
"It was a great college tennis match," said head coach Ryan Sachire. "We knew this coming in--Northwestern is every bit as good of a team as Kentucky and Minnesota and Illinois, and we knew this was going to be the same kind of slugfest. And it was. We're really, really happy to come out the here with the win."
The doubles point was hard won for Notre Dame; all three matches went to tiebreakers at 5-5. First off the court was senior Billy Pecor and freshman Josh Hagar at No. 2. The pair has served as a consistent anchor for the Irish doubles, having won their last three matches against top opponents. Today, they defeated Alp Horoz and Sam Shropshire, 6-5(3).
Senior Greg Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson battled back from a 5-2 deficit at No. 1 doubles, eventually getting Mihir Kumar and Raleigh Smith to a tiebreaker at 5-5. However, they ultimately fell to their Northwestern opponents, 6-5(4).
The point came down to senior Ryan Bandy and sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger at No. 3. They took down Fedor Baev and Strong Kirchheimer definitively in their own tiebreak, leaving the score, 6-5(2).
The match was just as tough of a battle when it came to singles play. Schnurrenberger was off the court quickly at No. 6, defeating Baev in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. But after that match, every point had to be won in a fight.
Sophomore Quentin Monaghan has been out of play since the start of the season due to injury, and tonight was his first match back in Irish uniform. Though he won his first set, 6-4, Monaghan was trailing in the second to Shropshire, 5-3, and had to overcome three set points to get to a set tiebreaker. He eventually won the match, 6-4, 6-5(5), giving the Irish a distinct 3-0 advantage while his teammates continued to battle in close sets.
"We're going to be the most gritty team every time we play," said Monaghan. "We don't necessarily have the most talent at every position, but we are always going to play the hardest. As for me, I'm just glad to be back on the court. The team did a great job of starting the season without me, and now I just want to help them keep it going."
Andrews then fell at No. 1 to Northwestern's Smith, 6-4 , 6-4. The match was clinched by freshman Eddy Covalschi, who--after losing his first set in a tiebreaker--came back to win the next two sets against Horoz. His final score, 5(4)-6, 6-3, 6-0, put the Irish over the top at 4-1.
The unfinished matches of the evening deserve their own recognition. At No. 3, Bandy battled back after losing his first set and falling behind in his second to win a second-set tiebreak and then get up early on Kumar in the third set. Similarly, Hagar was struggling on court four against Kirchheimer, but battled back to give the Irish some much needed momentum.
"We have so much respect for what Northwestern's doing," Sachire added. "We knew this was going to be a hornet's nest to play in, and it was. Our guys were in a little bit of trouble but they responded to the adversity, as we talked about since last week's loss to Illinois. They really battled and dug deep. It was an amazing team win. The 4-1 score isn't indicative of how close this match was. We're really excited about this win."
Notre Dame's record on the season now moves to 7-1. The Irish will turn around to travel to Houston, Texas for the ITA National Championships this weekend. As always, fans can find results and updates here on UND.com.
1. Raleigh Smith (NU) def. Greg Andrews (ND), 6-4, 6-4
2. Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. Sam Shropshire (NU), 6-4, 6-5(5)
3. Ryan Bandy (ND) vs, Mihir Kumar (NU), 4-6, 6-5(6), 3-1, unfinished
4. Josh Hagar (ND) vs. Strong Kirchheimer (NU), 2-6, 6-5(3), unfinished
5. Eddy Covalschi (ND) def. Alp Horoz (NU) 5(4)-6, 6-3, 6-0
6. Eric Schnurrenberger (ND) def. Fedor Baev (NU), 6-1, 6-2
1. Mihir Kumar/Raleigh Smith (NU) def. Greg Andrews/Alex Lawson (ND), 6-5 (4)
2. Billy Pecor/Josh Hagar (ND) def. Alp Horoz/Sam Shropshire (NU), 6-5 (3)
3. Ryan Bandy/Eric Schnurrenberger (ND) def. Fedor Baev/Strong Kirchheimer (NU), 6-5(2)
--Lauren Chval, Media Relations Assistant