May 14, 2016
By Joanne Norell
EVANSTON, Ill. -- The first-round NCAA Championship meeting between the University of Notre Dame men's tennis team and Stanford was everything that Callaghan Family Head Men's Tennis Coach Ryan Sachire thought it would be.
The Irish and Cardinal played close matches up and down the lineup Saturday at the Combe Tennis Center on the campus of Northwestern University, but the Irish fell just short in a match that was closer than the final 4-1 score indicated.
"It was a vey competitive match, they just played a little bit better than we did," Sachire said. "We'd love to play that match again because it was such a competitive affair, but [Stanford] deserved to win."
Three equally tight doubles contests set the tone for the rest of the match, with all three sets decided by a 7-5 score. With the exception of a break by each team early on Court 2, the Irish and Cardinal held through the majority of doubles. Stanford got the first break on Court 1, with No. 23 Tom Fawcett and Maciek Romanowicz taking a 6-5 lead over 15th-ranked Irish seniors Alex Lawson and Quentin Monaghan, and the Cardinal pair held to win the first doubles decision.
The Irish answered in kind on Court 3, with freshman Grayson Broadus and senior Nicolas Montoya also breaking to go up 6-5, then climbing out of a 15-40 hole in the next game to even the plane with a 7-5 victory of their own. It was Stanford, however, who picked up the last break as David Wilczynski and Nolan Paige broke No. 50 Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar in the final game to win 7-5 and claim the doubles point for the Cardinal.
The Irish took a one-set lead on three singles courts, but Stanford took the first two decisions to take a 3-0 lead. Kumar defeated senior Kenneth Sabacinski 6-3, 6-1 on Court 5, while 15th-ranked Fawcett bested No. 35 Monaghan 6-2, 6-1 to extend the lead for the Cardinal.
The Irish got on the board next with Broadus collecting a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Romanowicz on Court 6.
"Grayson's done a heck of a job this year," Sachire said. "He's really improved throughout the year and won some big matches for us. He's an exciting player that we're going to have three more years with."
Three competitive matches remained. The Irish led on Courts 2 and 3, with Hagar and Covalschi each snaring first-set victories, while the match on Court 4 was a back-and-forth number that eventually featured just one break. Lawson dropped a first-set tiebreaker to Paige, but wasn't broken until Paige took a 6-5 lead in the second set, ultimately clinching the win for Stanford at 7-6(3), 7-5.
"There was one break the whole match and their guy won the big points," Sachire said. "[Lawson] didn't do anything wrong, so credit to them."
Hagar (5-5) and Covalschi (3-3) were each tied in their second sets before they were abandoned.
It was the final dual match in the careers of seniors Monaghan, Lawson, Montoya, Sabacinski and Eric Schnurrenberger -- who as a group Sachire said left a legacy that has meant far more than their record on the court. Over the past four years, the group has won a BIG EAST Championship (2013), advanced to the Sweet 16 (2014) and recorded the biggest upset by ranking in Intercollegiate Tennis Association history (April 8, 2015 over No. 1 North Carolina).
"I get really emotional when talking about them," Sachire said. "Quentin, Alex, Kenny, Nico, Eric are great people and I'm so proud of them and the legacy they've established at Notre Dame and it was a privilege to coach them."
The Irish finish the season at 15-14. Monaghan and Lawson will return to action during the individual portion of the NCAA Championships, with Monaghan competing in both singles and doubles, while Lawson will compete in doubles for the third straight season.
Stanford 4, Notre Dame 1
1. No. 15 Tom Fawcett (SU) def. No. 35 Quentin Monaghan 6-2, 6-1
2. No. 105 Josh Hagar (ND) vs. Michael Genender (SU) 6-3, 5-5, unfinished
3. Eddy Covalschi (ND) vs No. 87 David Wilczynski (SU) 7-6(3), 3-3, unfinished.
4. Nolan Paige (SU) def. Alex Lawson (ND) 7-6(3), 7-5
5. Sameer Kumar (SU) def. Kenneth Sabacinski (ND) 6-3, 6-1
6. Grayson Broadus (ND) def. Maciek Romanowicz (SU) 6-3, 6-3
1. No. 23 Tom Fawcett / Maciek Romanowicz (SU) def. No. 15 Alex Lawson / Quentin Monaghan (ND) 7-5
2. David Wilczynski / Nolan Paige (SU) def. No. 50 Eddy Covalschi / Josh Hagar (ND) 7-5
3. Grayson Broadus / Nicolas Montoya (ND) def. Sameer Kumar / Yale Goldberg (SU) 7-5
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.