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Men’s Tennis

ND splits home matches

| Monday, February 24, 2014

No. 10 Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead by winning the doubles point over No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday afternoon before the top-ranked Buckeyes battled back to hand the Irish their first home loss of the spring campaign. In its second match on the day, Notre Dame cruised past Ball State, 4-0, without dropping a point.

Irish senior Greg Andrews hits a shot during Notre Dame's 4-2 loss to Ohio State on Saturday in the Eck Tennis Center. Joseph Monardo | The Observer

Irish senior Greg Andrews hits a shot during Notre Dame’s 4-2 loss to Ohio State on Saturday in the Eck Tennis Center.

The grueling 4-2 loss marked the second time in eight days the Irish nearly upset the top-ranked team in the country. Notre Dame fell to then-No.1 Virginia, 4-2, on Feb. 14.

“Ohio State deserves all the credit,” Irish coach Ryan Sachire said. “Our guys were ready and we backed them into a corner early by winning doubles, but their players and coaches did not cave. They proved why they are a great team.”

The Irish doubles duos of senior Ryan Bandy and sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger as well as senior Billy Pecor and freshman Josh Hagar propelled the Irish to an early 1-0 lead heading into singles play. The third doubles pair of senior Greg Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson dropped its match to the No. 2 doubles team in the country of senior Peter Kobelt and redshirt junior Kevin Metka representing the Buckeyes.

Notre Dame continued its winning ways in its first singles match as Bandy claimed a quick pair of 6-3 victories, giving his team a 2-0 lead. Bandy’s victory would be Notre Dame’s last as Ohio State claimed the next four singles victories to win the day. Irish sophomore Quentin Monoghan, Andrews, Schnurrenberger and freshman Eddy Covalschi dropped their respective matches, two of which occurred in tiebreakers. Hagar’s match in the final singles spot went unfinished as the Buckeyes had already clinched victory.

“Our guys wanted it big time,” Sachire said. “Almost too much. We made a lot of uncharacteristic errors down the stretch that ultimately cost us the win. To be an elite team, you have to be able to trust yourself in those situations.

The Irish did not allow the missed opportunity of knocking off a top-ranked team affect their later performance against Ball State (4-3). Lawson, Monaghan, Andrews, Hagar and junior Wyatt McCoy all took home singles victories for the Irish.

“Our approach is the same whether we are playing the top-ranked team or an unranked team,” Sachire said. “One thing we emphasize as a program is that the process is the same whether we play Ohio State or Ball State. You have to bring energy an consistency to win any match.”

After narrowly falling to defending national champion Virginia (6-1, 1-0) last weekend at the ITA National Indoors, the Irish hoped that a home victory in front of nearly 500 fans and covered by ESPN would serve as a benchmark for the program.

“We put ourselves in a position these last two weeks to beat two elite programs,” Sachire said. “For us to make that jump as a team we need to take advantage of those opportunities. One thing we try and emphasize as a program is consistency.”

Again at its home Eck Tennis Pavilion, Notre Dame is back in action Friday against Virginia Tech.

Contact Henry Hilliard at rhillia1@nd.edu

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About Henry Hilliard

Henry is from Kansas City, lives in O'Neill Hall and is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Business Economics. He covers Men's Tennis and Men's Swimming and Diving for the Observer.

Contact Henry