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Men’s Tennis: Notre Dame takes on familiar foe at home

Megan Finneran | Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The No. 29 Irish return home tonight, hosting No. 17 Illinois after a win against No. 59 Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame (7-5) will face the Illini (6-3) with fresh feet, while Illinois will face Illinois State earlier in the day. The Irish have a long history with Illinois, leading the overall series 23-22.

The Irish come off a 5-2 win against Wisconsin, a match fueled by five wins in singles play after dropping the doubles point. Junior Greg Andrews, senior Blas Moros, freshman Quentin Monaghan, sophomore Wyatt McCoy and senior Michael Moore each contributed a point to the Irish victory.

“I think the match against Wisconsin was pretty important,” Monaghan said. “It will give us confidence knowing that, with our backs against the wall after a bad doubles point, we came up big in singles and produced five solid matches and got the win.”

Notre Dame will continue seeking leadership from its top competitors. Andrews, Moros and Monaghan have contributed points to wins throughout the season.

“Going into Illinois, it’s going to be a very tough match and a lot of it will come down to our belief,” Monaghan said. “We can definitely win the match but we’re going to have to battle and compete hard.”

The Irish have struggled in doubles play this season, but continue to focus on areas of improvement. While the squad has proven its ability to bounce back after losing the doubles point, it hopes to start on a better foot this weekend.

“It’s going to be a fun atmosphere and being at home definitely helps,” Monaghan said. “We’re going to have to focus on doubles going in.”

The Illini are on a three-match winning streak, defeating No. 6 Kentucky, Iowa and No. 20 Northwestern. The Wildcats, Illinois’ most recent opponent, defeated the Irish 4-3 earlier in the season.

Illinois’ top competitors are underclassmen. In singles play, Illinois boasts No. 38 freshman Jared Hiltzik, sophomore Tim Kopinski and sophomore Ross Guignon, who all went 2-0 in singles competition last weekend.

“Once the match starts it’s all about who competes the hardest and who is ready to take the match from the opponent,” Monaghan said.

Doubles play against Illinois will begin at 6 p.m. tonight in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Contact Megan Finneran at mfinnera@nd.edu