Feb. 13, 2016
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- University of Notre Dame men's tennis head coach Ryan Sachire has been doing some shuffling.
That's not because Lawson and Monaghan have lost their edge as a team, or because their chemistry has disappeared. No -- Sachire has seen the Irish succeed since tinkering with his doubles lineup because pairing his strongest leaders with younger players has had a confidence-boosting ripple effect that has positively impacted the team's play in both singles and doubles.
The combination worked again for the Irish Saturday as Notre Dame looked strong up and down the lineup, defeating No. 54 Michigan in a convincing 6-1 decision at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
"The mindset was to take our two senior leaders and help them inject confidence into other guys," Sachire said. "I think it's working. Quentin has done an amazing job of giving (freshman Grayson Broadus) confidence, building Grayson up, and he's played at a much higher level because of Quentin's leadership on the court. Same thing with Alex and (Eddy Covalschi), and it's translated into both of their (Broadus and Covalschi's) singles games, as well. We're going to continue to be a work in progress and look at what combos are going to give us the best chance to be successful, but in the short-term it's been a good experiment."
The Irish captured the doubles point thanks to their strong play on Courts 2 and 3, leaving the match on Court 1 unfinished. At the No. 2 position, Monaghan and Broadus gave the Irish the first win, a 6-3 decision over Tyler Gardiner and Jathan Malik, while senior Eric Schnurrenberger and junior Josh Hagar replicated the effort with a 6-3 win of their own over Kevin Wong and Gabe Tishman.
Covalschi, who has won his last two matches after starting the dual season 1-5, gave the Irish a quick 2-0 lead as singles got underway, defeating Michigan's Davis Crocker 6-0, 6-1 on Court 3. The 51st-ranked Monaghan followed close behind with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 73 Malik at the No. 1 spot, putting Notre Dame up 3-0.
Matches on the remaining four courts each went to third sets, but the extra work was no problem for the Irish. Notre Dame clinched on the very next decision, as Schnurrenberger warded off a Michigan comeback to defeat Kevin Wong 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
Hagar was similarly strong in the third set on Court 4, overcoming a second-set loss to defeat Runhao Hua 7-6(1), 2-6, 10-7 and win his third match in a row. Broadus closed the book on the Irish victory, showing poise in his third set to defeat Myles Schalet 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 at the No. 6 slot.
Michigan didn't earn a point until the final match, a tight 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3) win for Alex Knight over Lawson on Court 2.
The Irish (5-4) won their third straight match and moved above .500 for the first time since the second week of the season, snapping the Wolverines' (5-2) five-match winning streak. Michigan entered the contest having defeated No. 25 Duke 7-0 the previous Sunday.
"It's huge," Monaghan said. "We had a rough patch earlier in the year, but guys have stuck with the process and gotten better every week. To see the hard work pay off early in the season with a win like this is nice. It's definitely a good building block going forward."
The Irish will return to action next Sunday when they host No. 49 Kentucky (10 a.m. ET) and Western Michigan (6 p.m.) at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Men's action will sandwich the No. 33 Irish women's 2 p.m. match against Louisville.
No. 36 Notre Dame 6, No. 54 Michigan 1
1. No. 51 Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. No. 73 Jathan Malik (UM) 6-2, 6-3
2. Alex Knight (UM) def. Alex Lawson (ND) 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3)
3. Eddy Covalschi (ND) def. Davis Crocker (UM) 6-0, 6-1
4. Josh Hagar (ND) def. Runhao Hua (UM) 7-6(1), 2-6, 10-7
5. Eric Schnurrenberger (ND) def. Kevin Wong (UM) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2
6. Grayson Broadus (ND) def. Myles Schalet (UM) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
1. Eddy Covalschi / Alex Lawson (ND) vs. Alex Knight / Runhao Hua (UM) 2-5, unfinished
2. Grayson Broadus / Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. Tyler Gardiner / Jathan Malik (UM) 6-3
3. Josh Hagar / Eric Schurrenberger (ND) def. Kevin Wong / Gabe Tishman (UM) 6-3
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master's degree from Georgetown University in 2013.