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Men’s Tennis

ND splits matches at ITA Kick-Off

| Monday, January 26, 2015

No. 14 Notre Dame split its two matches this weekend at the ITA Kick-Off Championships at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“We love playing at home,” Irish coach Ryan Sachire said. “It was a reward for the final ranking we had last year and that’s how we were determined to be the host school here. It was an awesome environment to be a part of.”

The Irish (2-1) opened the tourney Saturday with a 4-3 win over No. 24 Oklahoma State.

After failing to take the doubles point against Kentucky on Jan. 17, the Irish started Saturday with doubles victories from senior Billy Pecor and junior Alex Lawson and juniors Quentin Monaghan and Eric Schnurrenberger. The remaining pairing of sophomores Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi did not finish its match, but were ahead when Notre Dame clinched the doubles point – a point that turned out to be decisive for the Irish in their victory.

In singles against the Cowboys (4-1), the Irish lost three of their first five matches, forcing the entire match to come down to the match between Schnurrenberger and Oklahoma State freshman Tristan Meraut. Schnurrenberger ultimately put the Irish on top with a comeback 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (8) win that set Notre Dame up for a match against No. 16 Columbia in Sunday’s championship.

The Irish doubles pairings had another successful outing Sunday against the Lions (2-0), taking the point after Pecor and Lawson won their match on a tiebreaker, 7-6 (3).

“It’s only a point, but it gives you a momentum boost when you know going out there that you only have to split the six singles matches and not have to win four of the six,” Sachire said of the tiebreaker win.

Though the Irish took the doubles point, Columbia came back to win four of the singles matches and the overall tournament with a 4-2 victory.

“Credit to Columbia; they came into our place, lost a doubles point and won four singles from us,” Sachire said. “Hats off to them. They deserve the win.”

Against Columbia, all of Notre Dame’s singles matches went to three sets, including an unfinished match between Monaghan and No. 22 senior Winston Lin that went all the way to a third-set tiebreaker.

“The schedule we play is loaded with great teams,” Sachire said. “We’re going to be in a lot of these matches. We were in one yesterday, and we were in one today. That’s the way the year is going to be. The ACC is the best tennis conference in the country, with a lot of great teams and national championship contenders, and we’re going to find ourselves in a lot of these battles and every time you go through it, you become a little bit better because of it.”

Despite the loss Sunday, Sachire said he was optimistic about his team’s performance.

“I’m really proud of our team,” Sachire said. “We played our tails off. We knew it was going to be a great match. Columbia’s lost a grand total of two matches in the last 13 months. They’re a great, great team and have everyone back from a team that was a Sweet 16 team last year, and we saw that lineup that got them there. We were right there with them until the last ball. When you have two doubles matches decided in tiebreakers and all six singles matches go three sets, it really can’t get a whole lot closer than that. They outperformed us maybe at the end of the match, but we have to hold our heads on high. We played a great match, we competed the right way and I’m really proud of what we did.”

The Irish return to action against Northwestern on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

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