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Men’s Tennis

Notre Dame opens fall season at Illinois, Princeton

| Monday, September 22, 2014

Junior standout Quentin Monaghan ended Notre Dame’s weekend at the Fighting Illini Invitational on a high note, defeating No. 6 junior Jared Hiltzik of Illinois in straight sets 6-1, 6-1. The Irish split their weekend between Olympia Fields, Illinois, and the Farnsworth Ivy Invitational in Princeton, New Jersey.

Irish junior Alex Lawson follows through on a forehand against Florida State on Apr. 13.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish junior Alex Lawson follows through on a forehand against Florida State on Apr. 13.

On the final day of the invitational, Monaghan teamed up with freshman Drew Dawson to defeat Miami (Florida) freshman Christian Langmo and sophomore Bernard Tefel, 8-2. His last match of the tournament was a singles bout against Hiltzik, Illinois’s top-ranked player. Monaghan beat Hiltzik, an All-American last year, with ease, taking both sets 6-1.

“Quentin played a great match against Jared,” Notre Dame coach Ryan Sachire said. “It was extremely satisfying because Quentin works as hard as anyone we have had at Notre Dame to be the best player that he can be.  He has put in the time and effort to earn the confidence to go out and play like he did on Sunday, and the win was obviously very fulfilling for him.”

Ranked No. 88 in the nation in singles play, Monaghan started off his weekend poorly, losing his first singles match against Miami freshman Piotr Lomacki, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5). In his other two contests, Monaghan, along with junior Eric Schnurrenberger, fell in both doubles matches against duos from Memphis. Monaghan turned it around on day two, as he mounted a comeback against North Carolina State junior Thomas Weigel to win the match 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. He also won his other singles match of the day against North Carolina State sophomore Nick Horton, 7-5, 6-1.

The rest of the Irish finished 21-19 in all singles and doubles contests over the weekend. Junior Kenny Sabacinski shined for the Irish on the first day of the tournament, winning two doubles matches with senior Wyatt McCoy against North Carolina State seniors Robbie Mudge and Beck Bond, 8-3, and Illinois freshmen Aleks Vukic and Toshiki Matsuya, 8-5. Sabacinski also won a singles match, taking down Memphis freshman Ryan Peniston , 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

The other Irish athletes at the Illini Invitational, junior Nicolas Montoya, sophomore Eddy Covalschi and freshman Brendon Kempin, all experienced up-and-down performances, combining for a 5-6 record in singles competition.

“We did a lot of things that our coaching staff was excited about over the weekend, and there are clearly some things that we need to improve as our fall season continues,” Sachire said, “I really liked how we improved our doubles play as the weekend progressed, and in singles, I believe that each guy competed with a much clearer picture of how we wanted to play his singles matches as well.  On the flip side, we know that we are not at the level that we need to be at to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves.  There are specific areas of each player’s game that need to improve, and we are excited to do that in practice this week.”

In addition to Notre Dame’s participation in the Fighting Illini Invitational, seniors Billy Pecor, Dougie Barnard, Michael Fredericka and junior Alex Lawson traveled to Princeton for the Farnsworth Ivy Invitational.

In doubles competition, the No. 27-ranked duo Lawson and Pecor made a run in the tournament, making it all the way to the semifinals before falling to the No. 51-ranked duo from St. John’s, juniors Vaidik Munshaw and Lucas Hejhal, 8-1. The other Irish duo of Barnard and Fredericka won its opening match against Columbia freshman Taiyo Hamanaka and junior Eric Rubin, 8-5, and its round-of-16 bout against Miami freshmen Nile Clark and Andrew Harrington, 8-3. The duo’s run ended in the quarterfinals after a loss to Brown freshman Jack Haworth and junior Ivan Kravtchenko, 8-5.

Sachire said he was impressed with the play of the doubles pairs, but he added that improvement is needed throughout all facets of his players’ games.

“The areas of improvement are obviously individual to each player, when it comes to singles,” Sachire said. “As a group, we need to play a bit more confident [and] aggressive style of doubles and impose our will on our opponents a bit more.”

Notre Dame will continue play this weekend, as the team splits up to compete in the Crimson Tide Four in The Fall, the Vredevelt Invitational and the All-American Championships.

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About Manuel De Jesus

Manuel De Jesus is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is currently covering ND Volleyball, Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball.

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