June 1, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- When he stepped onto the University of Notre Dame campus for the first time as a student in the fall of 2012, Quentin Monaghan made a promise to himself.
"I told myself I wanted to be the hardest-working player in the country day in and day out, and that is something I have stuck by," the newly graduated men's tennis captain said. "I hope I was able to influence my peers in showing them that hard work and determination is by far the most important component in being successful. I can truly say I gave everything I had in every practice, workout and match. That is how I would like to be remembered."
Monaghan's time in a Notre Dame uniform is now over, but he won't soon be forgotten. The Chatham, New Jersey, native and classmate Alex Lawson (Tempe, Arizona) wrapped up their careers on Sunday in the NCAA Doubles Championship semifinals, cementing their legacies as two of the most accomplished and hard-working players in Irish men's tennis history.
In that respect, Monaghan kept his promise.
When the goal is a national championship -- and within reach -- anything less can be a tough dose of medicine. But you won't find Lawson and Monaghan attempting to rewrite the gameplan. As they found out in Sunday's nail-biting 7-5, 6-7(5), 10-8 loss to eventual national champions Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki of UCLA, sometimes the points just fall the other way.
"I really can't think of a better way to end my college tennis career than the emotional rollercoaster that was our 2016 season," Lawson said. "This season really tested us in so many ways and I know I'm a much better person, teammate, leader and friend having gone through it. ... As far as the match goes, [Quentin] and I have no regrets about the way we played. Absolutely none. To say something cliche like we fought hard every point wouldn't really do the match justice. That was the best doubles match I've ever been a part of."
That's high praise from a man who's played in 149 collegiate doubles matches. He leaves the program as its second-winningest doubles player with 94 wins (.631 winning percentage).
Through it all, they trusted The Process, the philosophy set forth by the coaching staff that describes the day-to-day activities that build upon each other to ultimately achieve success. Lawson and Monaghan -- and classmates Nicolas Montoya, Kenneth Sabacinski and Eric Schnurrenberger, perhaps better known together as The Fab Five -- have seen their shares of ups and downs, from first-round tournament exits to a sweet 16 to what might be the biggest win in program history.
During the course of the last four years, these seniors have:
- Won the 2013 BIG EAST Championship, the final title for the Irish in their last season in that conference.
- Advanced to the 2014 NCAA Round of 16, finishing with a 21-10 record and a No. 13 national ranking
- Defeated No. 1 North Carolina 5-2 on April 8, 2016. As the No. 55 ranked team at the time, it was the biggest upset of a No. 1 team by ranking in ITA history.
- Added two All-Americans (for three total A.A. honors) to the all-time ranks in the past two seasons, the first time since 2006-07 that the Irish have had All-Americans named in back-to-back years.
Lawson and Monaghan's individual achievements and honors have been recorded ad nauseam. They have succeeded together and apart, but a common thread runs through the words they use to describe their careers: pride in school, love for teammates, gratitude toward coaches -- and each other.
"As I look back on my time at ND, the most valuable lessons and experiences I will take away came from tennis. The sport teaches you so much about work ethic, teamwork, leadership and competition," Monaghan said. "I am going to miss playing for Notre Dame alongside my teammates and coaches more than anything in the world. It has been an incredible ride and one that has given me countless memories.
"It was an honor to play alongside Alex. He is one of my best friends and I could not think of anyone that deserved to be an All-American more than him. He has improved so much and stuck with the process. Alex has meant so much for this team and it was truly a privilege to play with him. We battled so hard and believed in each other so much. It was absolutely devastating to lose that match but I love that kid so much and am proud of what we accomplished."
"I don't really have words for what playing for Notre Dame has meant to me," Lawson added. "It's meant everything. Representing this school has essentially been the only thing I've cared about since I set foot on campus. The opportunities presented to me by this university, the athletic department and anyone else involved in any way have been beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. ... I'll never really leave Notre Dame. I can't wait to represent this school that has given me everything for the rest of my life in the best way I can.
"I also would like to thank Q for being there with me every step of the way. He is the best leader I've ever been around. I've learned so much from him in these past four years. It really was an honor to be able to play my last match with an ND on my chest with him and to be a part of his."
Both Lawson and Monaghan will now take the next step into professional tennis, with Lawson pursuing a doubles career while Monaghan will continue to play singles.
Going forward, plenty remains unknown.
That hard work -- and perhaps some good, old-fashioned #NDGrit -- is essential to success is one thing that remains certain.
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.