Feb. 13, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The No. 36 University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team will look to move above .500 Saturday when the Irish welcome No. 54 Michigan to the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Below, find all you need to know ahead of this weekend’s action:
After opening the season with a loss to unranked Kentucky, the No. 53 Wolverines have won five straight matches, including a 7-0 blanking of No. 25 Duke last Sunday. The Wolverines are led by No. 73 Jathan Malik, who is 3-2 at the top of the lineup, while Carter Lin is 4-1 and ranked 115th in the nation. Overall, the Wolverines are 30-4 in dual singles matches this season. Though none of its doubles teams are ranked, Michigan has won the doubles point in all five of its wins.
Irish in the Series
Notre Dame is 31-45 all time against Michigan, but have won the last four meetings dating back to 2012. Last season, the Irish traveled to Ann Arbor and walked away with a 5-2 win over the then-No. 47 Wolverines.
With 84 career doubles wins, senior Alex Lawson has moved into fourth place on the all-time Irish doubles win list. His 84-46 (.646) puts him just behind Jakub Pietrowski (95-45), Greg Andrews (93-50) and Billy Pecor (88-45) on the career register. Lawson has been ranked within the top 10 in doubles in each of the last three seasons, including his current No. 6 ranking with partner Quentin Monaghan, and has qualified for the past two NCAA Doubles Championships with former partners Andrews (’14) and Pecor (’15).
No updated team rankings were released this week, so the Irish remained at No. 36 in the Oracle/ITA standings. Seniors Quentin Monaghan and Alex Lawson remained ranked at No. 6 in the newest national doubles rankings (despite not having played together in three matches), while Monaghan fell to No. 51 in the singles poll (from No. 37).
Last Time Out
The Irish put together a mini two-match win streak to close last weekend after four straight losses on the road to ranked opponents. Notre Dame opened the weekend on Friday with a 5-2 loss at No. 12 Illinois, but returned home Sunday to record wins over No. 53 Indiana (5-2) and Ball State (7-0).
ITA Rules Changes
This season, the NCAA with the support of the ITA, will utilize a no-ad scoring format for the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s tennis championships. If a game reaches deuce, the next point will win the game. Additionally, eight-game pro-sets will no longer be utilized in doubles matches, with teams playing one set to six, with a tiebreak at six-all. At the individual doubles championships, matches will consist of the best-of-three sets, with a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set. The rules changes are designed to improve the pace of play in championship matches.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant 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 and earned her master's degree from Georgetown University in 2013.