March 18, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For a team that prides itself on its gritty persona, the University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team couldn’t have imagined a better outcome Friday as the events unfolded against traditional Atlantic Coast Conference power Duke at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
In a contest that featured seven tiebreaker sets and two three-set singles matches, the Fighting Irish flashed their trademark “#NDGrit,” winning in critical situations en route to a 5-2 victory over the Blue Devils. The Irish claimed six of the seven total tiebreaker sets, and won both matches that saw an extra session.
“That’s the epitome of pressure tennis,” Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said. “I think to come through consistently like we did was awesome and something to build upon moving forward. We always talk about controlling what you can control and being gritty in responses to adversity and I thought our guys did a really good job of that today, and the heart they competed with was outstanding.”
The Irish (9-8, 3-2 ACC) took an early lead after picking up 6-3 doubles wins on Courts 2 and 3. Freshman Grayson Broadus and senior Quentin Monaghan — ranked 71st in the latest Oracle/ITA doubles poll, scored a break over Daniel McCall and Jason Lapidus at 4-3 before cruising to the first doubles decision. At the No. 3 slot, senior Nicolas Montoya and junior Josh Hagar clinched the point with an identical win over Vincent Lin and Catalin Mateas.
Notre Dame and Duke proceeded to trade points through the first several singles decisions.
The Blue Devils (7-9, 1-3 ACC) pulled even early as TJ Pura defeated senior Alex Lawson 6-4, 6-3 on Court 4, but the Irish went up again when Broadus dispatched Josh Levine 6-2, 7-6(2) on Court 5. Mateas defeated Hagar 7-6(6), 6-3 at the No. 3 slot, but the 42nd-ranked Monaghan again gave the Irish a lead with a 7-6(5), 6-3 win over No. 20 Nicolas Alvarez at No. 1.
The decision came down to the outcomes of three-set matches on Courts 2 and 6, and both Irish representatives emerged successful. Junior Eddy Covalschi and senior Kenneth Sabacinski accounted for four of the seven tiebreaker sets played in the dual, each giving the Irish a chance to clinch.
Covalschi finished just ahead of Sabacinski to clinch the win for Notre Dame, coming back to defeat Vincent Lin 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 6-2, while Sabacinski put the finishing touches on the team victory with a 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(6) win over Adrian Chamdani.
“I knew that I had a job to do and that was to win the match,” Covalschi said. “After the first set I went down a break and, in the past, it was hard for me to hit the reset button, but the coaches encouraged me to control everything I can control, so I stayed as positive as I could and build some momentum and let it carry on point to point.”
The win was a critical one for the Irish, who had come in having lost two straight on the road to Clemson and Wake Forest last weekend.
“I was really proud of our team from the perspective that it was a tough weekend last weekend, but we came back on Tuesday and had one of the best practices of the season and had another great practice on Wednesday,” Sachire said. “We felt like we were turning the page quickly, which is what we needed to do. … They came out and established themselves with confidence and played well.”
The Irish will return to action at noon ET Sunday when they welcome Miami (Fla.) (6-7, 1-2 ACC) to the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
1. No. 42 Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. No. 20 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) 7-6(5), 6-3
2. Eddy Covalschi (ND) def. Vincent Lin (DU) 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 6-2
3. Catalin Mateas (DU) def. Josh Hagar (ND) 7-6(6), 6-3
4. TJ Pura (DU) def. Alex Lawson (ND) 6-4, 6-3
5. Grayson Broadus (ND) def. Josh Levine (DU) 6-2, 7-6(2)
6. Kenneth Sabacinski (ND) def. Adrian Chamdani (DU) 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(6)
1. Eddy Covalschi / Alex Lawson (ND) vs. Nicolas Alvarez / Ryan Dickerson (DU) 4-4, unfinished
2. No. 71 Grayson Broadus / Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. Daniel McCall / Jason Lapidus (DU) 6-3
3. Josh Hagar / Nicolas Montoya (ND) def. Vincent Lin / Catalin Mateas (DU) 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.