April 22, 2016
By Joanne Norell
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — In a back-and-forth match that ultimately came down to two tiebreaker singles sets, the University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team fell in a razor-thin 4-3 decision to No. 7 Wake Forest in the quarterfinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in a match that was forced inside the Margaret Moore Indoor Pavilion at the University of North Carolina after heavy rain drenched the area.
The Irish showed the kind of fight that has marked their play over the course of the last two weeks during a five-match win streak, but came up just short Friday with the outcome reliant on the very last singles decision.
“I’m really, really proud of our team and the way we fought,” the Callaghan Family Head Men’s Tennis Coach Ryan Sachire said. “Wake Forest is obviously one of the very best teams in the country … and we just continued to battle, scratch, claw, fight and put ourselves in a position to win was awesome. This is the way we want to compete match in and match out.”
Wake Forest won on Courts 2 and 3 to snatch the doubles point, though the matches at Nos. 1 and 2 were tight contests that saw several exchanged leads and breaks. Wake Forest’s Romain Bogaerts and Dennis Uspensky gave the Demon Deacons their first win with a 6-3 decision over Irish freshman Grayson Broadus and senior Nicolas Montoya on Court 3, while No. 78 Petros Chrysochos and Jon Ho defeated 44th-ranked juniors Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar 6-4 on Court 2.
The Irish won the first set on four of six singles courts. Wake Forest forced third sets in two of those matches, but the Irish ensured the decision would go down to the very end.
Wake Forest took the first singles match on Court 6, where Uspensky defeated Broadus 6-2, 6-1, but the Irish pulled back within 2-1 as Hagar bested the 19th-ranked Chrysochos 6-1, 7-5 on Court 2.
On Court 1, Irish senior Quentin Monaghan dropped the first set, but took a 5-2 lead in the second. His opponent, 14th-ranked Skander Mansouri won three straight games, however, and the set reached a tiebreaker, where Monaghan fell 6-2, 7-6(5) as the Demon Deacons went ahead 3-1.
Covalschi pulled the Irish to within one again, upending Ho 6-3, 7-6(4) on Court 3. That left matches in third sets on Courts 4 and 5.
Both Lawson and senior Kenneth Sabacinski had won tiebreakers in the first set on their respective courts, but each dropped the second to force the decisive stanzas. Sabacinski went down a break early at 1-3 on Court 5, but broke Seraphim on match point to make it 5-5. The two traded games to necessitate another tiebreaker, and Sabacinski made it 3-all in the team score with a 7-6(3), 1-6, 7-6(5) victory.
Lawson and No. 118 Bogaerts held throughout the entire third set, forcing a tiebreaker to determine the match. Lawson went up 5-2, but Bogaerts ripped off five straight points to pull off the 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(5) win to clinch the match for the Demon Deacons.
“You’re going to win some of these and lose some of these and it’s not about that, it’s about how you go about it,” Sachire said. “Those two seniors have been through the wars. The know what to do and they executed under an immense amount of pressure. I wouldn’t second-guess one point, one shot of what they did. They did a great job.”
The Irish will learn their NCAA Championship fate at 5:30 p.m. ET on May 3 during the NCAA.com Selection Show.
No. 7 Wake Forest 4, Notre Dame 3
1. No. 14 Skander Mansouri (WF) def. No. 32 Quentin Monaghan (ND) 6-2, 7-5
2. Josh Hagar (ND) def. No. 19 Petros Chrysochos (WF) 6-1, 7-5
3. Eddy Covalschi (ND) def. Jon Ho (WF) 6-3, 7-6(4)
4. No 118 Romain Bogaerts (WF) def. Alex Lawson (ND) 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(5)
5. Kenneth Sabacinski (ND) def. Christian Seraphim (WF) 7-6(3), 1-6, 7-6(5)
6. Dennis Uspensky (WF) def. Grayson Broadus (ND) 6-2, 6-1
1. No. 12 Alex Lawson / Quentin Monaghan (ND) vs. No. 13 Skander Mansouri / Christian Seraphim (WF) 6-5, unfinished
2. No. 78 Petros Chrysochos / Jon Ho (WF) def. No. 44 Eddy Covalschi / Josh Hagar (ND) 6-4
3. Romain Bogaerts / Dennis Uspensky (WF) def. Grayson Broadus / Nicolas Montoya (ND) 6-3
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.