May 11, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. --- For the first time since 2007, the Notre Dame men's tennis team will play in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. The Irish fought their way to the championship in a tight match against Ole Miss this afternoon, ultimately coming out on top, 4-2.
"Well, we talk about it all year long," head coach Ryan Sachire said. "Grit. Grit and toughness. You know, we set a goal for ourselves to get to Athens, to get to the Sweet 16 and beyond back in August in our first team meeting. After that we only talked about the process and what it's going to take to achieve those goals, and grittiness and toughness is the one thing that we've always preached to our guys, and they really displayed that today. What a great match."
The Irish got off to a good start with the doubles point. The 18th-ranked duo of senior Greg Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson bested William Kallberg and Stefan Lindmark, 8-2, at No. 1. Senior Billy Pecor and freshman Josh Hagar then fell at No. 2 to Nik Scholtz and Ricardo Jorge, 8-4. The doubles point was decided on court three, where sophomore Quentin Monaghan and senior Ryan Bandy defeated Johan Backstrom and Joe Rogers, 8-6.
Ole Miss tied it up with the first match off the court in singles. Jorge beat freshman Eddy Covalschi at No. 5, 6-4, 6-4. Sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger defeated Vinod Gowda on court six, 6-3, 7-5, putting Notre Dame back up, 2-1.
The Rebels came back at No. 2 singles. Kallberg defeated Bandy in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Hagar topped Backstrom at No. 4, 6-4, 7-6(3). He won his second set in a 7-3 tiebreaker after falling behind 4-5 in the set.
The remaining matches on the court--Andrews and Scholtz at No. 1 and Monaghan and Lindmark at No. 3--both went into third sets. With Andrews at 6-5 and Monaghan at 5-4, either one could have sealed the Notre Dame victory, but it was Monaghan who clinched the match for the Irish, defeating Lindmark, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
"Battling through adversity has been one of the traits of this team the whole year," Monaghan explained. "We've just been trying to establish gritty competitiveness. We were favored to win this match by ranking, but going to the final set, we knew it was going to be a battle, and I think everyone was ready for their best shot, and I think that kind of helped us when things got tough."
Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick congratulated Notre Dame on the victory, adding that the competition at this level of college tennis is remarkably high.
"There's so much parity in college tennis now," said Chadwick. "It's really hard to predict the winners. "I thought that Notre Dame played really, really good. And we knew that they were good. And the crowd did a great job of really pushing them in those tight moments. And it was your great college match where it came down to one or two hits of the ball, and today was their day and congratulations to them."
The Irish now advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 in Athens, Ga., where they will play the Virginia Cavaliers, whom Notre Dame has already seen in three matches so far this season. The action against Virginia will begin on Friday, May 16.
1. Greg Andrews (ND) led Nik Scholtz (OM), 6-4, 3-6, 6-5, unfinished
2. William Kallberg (OM) def. Ryan Bandy (ND), 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
3. Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. Stefan Lindmark (OM), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
4. Josh Hagar (ND) def. Johan Backstrom (OM), 6-4, 7-6(3)
5. Ricardo Jorge (OM) def. Eddy Covalschi (ND), 6-4, 6-4
6. Eric Schnurrenberger (ND) def. Vinod Gowda (OM), 6-3, 7-5
1. Greg Andrews/Alex Lawson (ND) def. William Kallberg/Stefan Lindmark (OM), 8-2
2. Nik Scholtz/Ricardo Jorge (OM) def. Billy Pecor/Josh Hagar (ND), 8-4
3. Ryan Bandy/Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. Johan Backstrom/Joe Rogers (OM), 8-6
--Lauren Chval, Media Relations Assistant