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Men’s Tennis: Freshman shines for Irish

Peter Steiner | Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Passion for the game and sheer determination.

These two characteristics are not always present within athletes, but when they are, success usually follows.

Luckily for the Irish, freshman Quentin Monaghan displays both qualities and is already starting to find success high in the singles lineup this season.

“Quentin has two terrific qualities that set him apart from a lot of college tennis players,” Irish coach Bobby Bayliss said. “One is he absolutely hates to lose and will do whatever it takes to win a match. Secondly, he is truly passionate about tennis. We never have to suggest that he work harder or practice more. In fact, frequently we are encouraging him to leave because he finds tennis a lot of fun.”

Monaghan has already had his share of fun on the court this spring season, winning seven of the eight finished matches all at the No. 2 or No. 3 singles slot. The freshman, known as ‘Q’ by his teammates, most recently took down Michigan sophomore Alex Petrone at No. 2 singles on Saturday, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2. His victory was crucial in No. 29 Notre Dame’s 4-3 upset of the No. 21 Wolverines at the Eck Pavilion.

“I felt good. I was pretty nervous going in,” Monaghan said. “I have been playing mostly No. 3 singles this year and stuck to my game and played a good third set and was able to win.
“This is the first huge win I’ve been here for and I couldn’t be happier. It’s much better winning as a team than just individually.”

After taking the first set 6-4 on Saturday, Monaghan encountered some challenges in the second set. The Chatham, N.J., native eventually dropped the second set 1-6 – just the second set he’s lost in nearly a month – but recovered to take the third set 6-2.

“I got off to a pretty quick start and then lost it a little bit, but I focused on my serve and playing aggressive and I felt like I controlled the match,” Monaghan said.

While his win over Michigan was particularly special because the team took the overall match, Monaghan has found success against the top teams all spring season. Leading up to Saturday, he had already defeated players from No. 7 Kentucky, No. 31 Memphis and No. 28 Harvard.

“I think a mindset [I have is] that on every point that I’m going to battle for each point and try not to think about what spot [I’m playing] and focus on the match,” Monaghan said.

Monaghan found lots of success before collegiate tennis, but Bayliss said he has developed his game [at Notre Dame] much further this year by improving in all areas.

“I would call Quentin an all-court player,” Bayliss said. “I think he came to Notre Dame with more of a counter puncher’s mentality and has developed his offensive skills to a very high level. He is really hitting both forehands and backhands with great authority.

“His serve has gotten better and he now gets a few free points. … His willingness to come to the net and finish points has really expanded his capabilities.”

Not only has Monaghan helped the Irish during matches, but his work ethic has positively influenced the other players during practice, Bayliss said.

“I think any time you’re around someone who is as passionate and positive about tennis as he is, some of it is going to rub off,” Bayliss said. “He’s just been a win-win for us.”

The Irish are not the only ones who have benefited from Monaghan’s decision to attend Notre Dame though, as he recognizes how much Notre Dame has helped him.

“I came to Notre Dame because the coaches are great and I knew that I had the chance to get a lot better if I just worked hard and listened to what the coaches have said,” Monaghan said. “They have made an enormous difference and given me a lot of confidence.”

This confidence, along with his passion and determination, can only help him and the Irish continue to succeed.

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu