April 21, 2016
By Joanne Norell
CARY, N.C. — For the University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team, the ability to play its best tennis at the most crucial times has been the key to its success over the last two weeks of the season.
The Irish rode a four-match winning streak into this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, highlighted by critical wins over No. 1 North Carolina and NC State. The seventh-seeded Irish continued that trend Thursday, defeating 10th seed Duke 4-1 in the tournament’s second round to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal match against Wake Forest.
“This is a big win for us because we respect their program so much,” the Callaghan Head Men’s Tennis Coach Ryan Sachire said. “I think we’re playing pretty well and doing a really good job of being calm and playing our best tennis in the biggest moments. I think that’s what good teams do to separate themselves in close matches. … The key over the last month or so has been to play our best tennis when we need it the most.”
Freshman Grayson Broadus and senior Nicolas Montoya gave the Irish an early advantage in doubles, defeating Jason Lapidus and Daniel McCall 6-2 on Court 3. With juniors Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar down on Court 2, seniors Alex Lawson and Quentin Monaghan went up a break at 4-3 before ultimately clinching the doubles point with a 6-3 victory over Catalin Mateas and Vincent Lin.
“Our senior leadership at No. 1 doubles was awesome,” Sachire said. “Nico and Grayson played a good match at three, but for Quentin and Alex to come out against a good team, they played really well. They saw pretty early on that the doubles point would come down to their match, I think, and they stepped up and took it, and that was a big first point for our team.”
Hagar gave the Irish a 2-0 lead early into singles play, breezing by Mateas 6-1, 6-0 on Court 2, but Duke answered from Court 5 as Josh Levine upended senior Kenneth Sabacinski 6-2, 6-1. Covalschi then put Notre Dame up 3-1 with his 7-6, 6-3 victory over Lin at the No. 3 slot.
“I think a big, big moment was when Eddy won the first set,” Sachire said. “He was the last first set to finish and that was a big one. It was going to be either 3-3 in first sets or 4-2 in our favor and his first-set win in the long tiebreaker there gave us a little bit of separation and breathing room.”
The remaining three matches went to third sets. Monaghan and Broadus each led by a set before being forced into a third on their respective courts, while Lawson came back from a first-set tiebreaker loss to take TJ Pura into a third on Court 4.
While dominant in the first set, Broadus dropped a second-set tiebreaker to McCall on Court 6. In the third, the freshman quickly went up a break, and scored two critical holds on deuce point during the set to go up 4-1 and ultimately take the match 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-1 to clinch the victory.
“[McCall] played a really good tiebreaker at the end of the second set, but I wasn’t worried,” Broadus said. “The match was even. I just came out there really energetic and did the basic things to get the win and came up better than he did.”
Lawson also led in the final set, with his match abandoned when he had a break point while up 4-2.
The Irish (15-12) will meet seventh-ranked and second-seeded Wake Forest (26-5) at noon ET in Friday’s quarterfinal. The Demon Deacons have won 13 of their last 14 matches.
Notre Dame 4, Duke 1
1. No. 32 Quentin Monaghan (ND) vs. No. 21 Nicolas Alvarez (DU) 6-2, 2-6, 1-4, unfinished
2. Josh Hagar (ND) def. Catalin Mateas (DU) 6-1, 6-0
3. Eddy Covalschi (ND) def. Vincent Lin (DU) 7-6, 6-3
4. Alex Lawson (ND) vs. TJ Pura (DU) 6-7, 6-2, 4-2, unfinished
5. Josh Levine (DU) def. Kenneth Sabacinski (ND) 6-2, 6-1
6. Grayson Broadus (ND) def. Daniel McCall (DU) 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-1
1. No. 12 Alex Lawson / Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. Catalin Mateas / Vincent Lin (DU) 6-3
2. No. 44 Eddy Covalschi / Josh Hagar (ND) vs. Nicolas Alvarez / TJ Pura (DU) 2-5, unfinished
3. Grayson Broadus / Nicolas Montoya (ND) vs. Jason Lapidus / Daniel McCall (ND) 6-2
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director 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, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master's degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.