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Men’s Tennis

Monaghan puts winning streak on line in Columbus

| Friday, February 20, 2015

After a decisive victory at Michigan last week, No. 17 Notre Dame will return to action Saturday, taking on No. 9 Ohio State in another road contest. The match against the Buckeyes (10-3) will be the third straight Big Ten opponent for the Irish. Notre Dame (6-1) will conclude a string of four straight Big Ten matches next Friday with a rescheduled match against Illinois.

Notre Dame comes into the match on a four-match winning streak and are unbeaten in February. The Irish have not lost since they dropped a 4-2 match to Columbia on Jan. 25.

“We’ve been playing well,” said Irish coach Ryan Sachire. “It’s always great to win a ton of matches, and we’ve had that fortune over the last few weeks, so we’re hoping to carry that momentum into Saturday. Any time you’ve been winning a fair amount, you feel pretty good about your game, so we have a lot of confidence going into Saturday.”

Specifically, Notre Dame has gotten very consistent production from junior Quentin Monaghan, who is ranked 29th nationally. Playing in the No. 1 singles spot for the Irish, Monaghan has not lost a singles match for Notre Dame since a three-set defeat Jan. 24 against Oklahoma State.

“Quentin has been a stud for us this year,” Sachire said. “He’s done a great job playing against some really good competition. Every match out there when you play number one is a battle. Quentin has taken on the challenge of playing every team’s best guy, and he’s done an amazing job of competing and playing really well. He’s had a great year to this point.”

A win against Ohio State might be harder to come by than the rest of the recent matches for the Irish. With each of their past four wins coming against unranked opponents, Notre Dame’s match against Ohio State will be its first match against a ranked opponent in the month of February.

In recent history, the Buckeyes have proven to be nearly impossible to beat at home. Including wins in each of their nine home matches this season, the Buckeyes currently are in the midst of an NCAA-record 200-game home winning streak. The last time Ohio State lost on its home courts was April 5, 2003, when the Buckeyes dropped a 5-2 decision to Illinois.

“We’ve been excited for a lot of matches this year,” Sachire said. “When you have an opportunity to play a top-10 team, and you feel like you’re at that same level, you know it’s going to be competitive. But we also know it’s just one match on our schedule. Whether we win or lose, we’re going to treat it as such and not get too high or too low afterward.”

Despite a high ranking and an undefeated home record, the Buckeyes come into Saturday’s matchup losers of two straight. Ohio State ended its visit to the NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend in Chicago with losses to Illinois and USC. Overall, Ohio State has lost three of its last four.

The match against Notre Dame will be the first of two matches for Ohio State on Saturday. Following their match against the Irish, the Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Dayton later in the day.

Notre Dame and Ohio State are set to match up beginning Saturday at 12 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio.

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