May 16, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- When the Notre Dame men's tennis team sat down to discuss season goals back in the fall, Athens, Georgia was on everyone's mind. The Irish hadn't been to the NCAA Sweet 16 since 2007, but this group wanted to end its season among the most elite teams in the country, and that's exactly what they did.
Notre Dame fell 4-1 to Virginia in the Sweet 16 this afternoon, ending their season with a 21-10 record. It was the fourth time that the Irish faced the Cavaliers this season, and head coach Ryan Sachire said that only increased the team's mindset of going in with the will to win.
"I was really proud of our guys--more than the whole season--but their effort today," Sachire said. "They mentally and emotionally invested today and came down here with a chip on their shoulder and a purpose of winning. Virginia was a little bit too good, and there's no shame in that, but I was proud of how they competed."
The two teams were especially competitive in doubles, where it came down to the match on court two. Sophomore Alex Lawson and senior Greg Andrews defeated Alex Domijan and Harrison Richmond 8-6 after going up a break early at No. 1. Despite an early 5-2 lead, senior Matt Dooley and sophomore Quentin Monaghan fell at No. 3 after Justin Shane and Mitchell Frank mounted a strong comeback and took the match, 8-6.
Senior Billy Pecor and freshman Josh Hagar played a tight match against Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Mac Styslinger but ultimately fell, 8-6, and Virginia took the doubles point and an early 1-0 lead against Notre Dame.
"That's doubles," Sachire said. "At this level, they're always close. We could have used a point here, a point there, and then maybe it's a different story. But give Virginia credit, they hit the shots when they needed to hit them. But we just came up a little bit short. The whole match, down the line, was really close. In doubles, it was certainly a real close piece of the puzzle."
The Irish pushed past the doubles point to fight in singles. Andrews broke Domijan at No. 1 to make it to an impossibly close first set tiebreaker that he lost 10-8. Despite losing his first set 7-5, Monaghan battled back against Ryan Shane to go up 4-3 in the second.
But Virginia came down hard on the Irish are Nos. 5 and 6 singles, where Kwiatkowski defeated freshman Eddy Covalschi, 6-2, 6-2 and Justin Shane beat sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger, 6-2, 6-2. With a 3-0 lead, the Cavaliers only had to win one more match of the remaining four.
It was Hagar who put Notre Dame on the board just before Virginia clinched the match. He got up early in his first set against Styslinger, taking it 6-2, and although he was down 5-3 in the second, the freshman won four consecutive games to clinch his match, 6-3, 7-5.
"He played great," Sachire said of Hagar. "Josh has had a great year for us. He's one of the elite players in the country. He played a great match today and beat a great player, and I'm really proud of Josh. The kid is a winner."
Frank sealed the Virginia victory with a 6-3, 6-2 over senior Ryan Bandy on court two. With that, Notre Dame finished an incredible season that displayed some of the best performances Fighting Irish men's tennis has seen in the last decade.
"You try to keep your mind and focus set on the day to day, so we haven't really had a chance to evaluate the entire season, but certainly getting here was a big goal of ours and we accomplished that," Sachire added.
To wrap up the season, Andrews and Lawson will be playing in the Doubles Championship next week with Andrews also competing in the Singles bracket.
Doubles (Order of finish: 1,3,2)
1. Greg Andrews/Alex Lawson (ND) def. #61 Alex Domijan/Harrison Richmond (UVA), 8-6
2. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski/Mac Styslinger (UVA) def. Josh Hagar/Billy Pecor (ND), 8-6
3. Justin Shane/Mitchell Frank (UVA) def. Matt Dooley/Quentin Monaghan (ND), 8-6
Singles (Order of finish: 6,5,4,2)
1. #6 Alex Domijan (UVA) vs. #24 Greg Andrews (ND), 7-6(8), 4-1, unf.
2. #4 Mitchell Frank (UVA) def. Ryan Bandy (ND), 6-3, 6-2
3. #46 Ryan Shane (UVA) vs. Quentin Monaghan (ND), 7-5, 3-4, unf.
4. Josh Hagar (ND) def. #81 Mac Styslinger (UVA), 6-2, 7-5
5. #113 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (UVA) def. Eddy Covalschi (ND), 6-2, 6-2
6. Justin Shane (UVA) def. Eric Schnurrenberger (ND), 6-2, 6-2
--Lauren Chval, Media Relations Assistant