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Men’s Tennis

Irish pair wins Midwest Regional

| Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Notre Dame’s duo of senior Billy Pecor and junior Alex Lawson might be one of the best doubles pairings in the country, ranked No. 27 nationally. But at the Midwest Regional Championships on Oct. 20, sophomores Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi took the spotlight, winning the doubles title.

At the annual tournament in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Hagar and Covalschi defeated Lawson and Pecor in a matchup between two of Notre Dame’s duos. Hagar and Covalschi were able to win the contest and move on to the finals after coming back down one set and taking the match, 4-6, 7-5, 10-6. In the doubles championship, Notre Dame’s duo bested No. 16 redshirt sophomore Ralf Steinbach and redshirt senior Kevin Metka from Ohio State, 7-6, 4-6, 12-10.

“This title is a great accomplishment not only for me and Eddy, but for the program as a whole,” Hagar said. “We work hard day in and day out for moments like this. That being said though, while it is a great accomplishment, we are going to continue to work towards bigger goals.”

Irish coach Ryan Sachire said Hagar and Covalschi are capable of being one of the better teams in the country.

“The biggest takeaway from Eddy and Josh winning the doubles championship is that they are a pretty darn good team, and we feel like we have two combinations [along with Alex and Billy] that have proven capable to win at any extremely high national level,” Sachire said. “Eddy and Josh bring an extremely high athletic ability to the table, and they have the potential to return serve as well as anyone in the country. When they serve aggressively and play with great energy and focus, like they did all throughout regionals, they are a very good doubles team.”

The doubles championship win was the first time the Irish captured the title at the Midwest Regional Championships since Ryan Keckley and Sheeva Parbhu won it in 2006.

“It means a lot to us and the program as a whole,” Covalschi said. “Winning a tournament like that is a great accomplishment, and we are looking forward to the opportunity we have in New York for nationals.”

Although the accomplishment was the highlight of the Irish’s tournament play, Sachire said there is still a lot for the team to work on.

“There were some aspects of our team’s performance at Regionals that we were very happy about, and there were some other aspects that we wish would have been better,” Sachire said. “Certainly the overall performance of Eric Schnurrenberger [reaching the quarterfinals in both singles and doubles], as well as the fact that Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar won the doubles championship were highlights.

“However, we would have liked to have seen our players in the qualifying event perform better than they did, as none of the five guys who were in that stage of the event won the three matches necessary to advance to the main draw. So while we are proud of some of the great accomplishments last weekend, we aren’t totally satisfied with our team’s overall performance.”

Hagar and Covalschi said they both agreed on that point, remembering that there is a greater prize that they are aiming for beyond this accomplishment.

“I don’t think winning is random,” Hagar said. “Eddy and I have put in hours of work week after week to give ourselves the best chance possible to post the result that we did. This gave us confidence, especially later in the tournament, to perform our best in high-pressure situations.

“Given that, in moments where we do accomplish a goal like this, it feels good to see how our hard work is paying off, but we also recognize that it is part of the process of improving, and we will continue to look forward to what’s next down the road.”

Notre Dame will next travel to Flushing, New York, to compete in the ITA National Indoor Championships, starting Nov. 6.

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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.

Contact Manuel