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Men’s Tennis

ND looks to rebound against Virginia Tech this weekend

| Thursday, March 5, 2015

No. 23 Notre Dame will head to Blacksburg, Virginia, to face No. 44 Virginia Tech on Friday. After a nail-bitingly close loss to Illinois last weekend that was decided by the final singles match, the Irish (6-3) aim for a more desirable outcome against the Hokies (8-1).

“In terms of our mindset I think we’re approaching the match knowing it’ll be a battle,” junior Quentin Monaghan said. “Virginia tech is a great team that we beat 4-3 last year, they have a lot of great players and we know were going to have to play our best match to come out with a win on their home courts. We’re taking this week of practice very seriously, knowing that we have to put in a lot of work to be prepared for a tough match.”

Last week’s match against Illinois saw some lineup shuffling due to an injury to junior Eric Schnurrenberger. The 19th-ranked pair of sophomores Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi stepped up to play the first doubles slot. The seventh-ranked duo of senior Billy Pecor and junior Alex Lawson, who maintain their status as the only ACC doubles team in the top 10, was broken up so Lawson and Monaghan could team up to play the second doubles slot, and Pecor and senior Dougie Barnard could play the No. 3 slot. Both Hagar and Covalschi and the new pairing of Pecor and Barnard secured victories. This weekend, the Irish have prepared for any lineup that may be decided, Monaghan said.

“Regardless of whether [Schnurrenberger] plays or our lineup changes, guys outside the lineup have done an incredible job all year buying into the process and knowing they’ll get their chance,” Monaghan said. “So far they have come in prepared and ready to battle. I think I speak for the team in saying that we are confident in whoever plays.”

Last week’s result as well as the recent death of Fr. Theodore Hesburgh have made the team even more determined to stay focused, Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said.

“Father Hesburgh’s influence on Notre Dame was very significant and the loss of a person of that stature certainly has ripple effect,” Sachire said. “With everything happening on campus, I don’t think that our team has lost its focus. There is a lot on our plate right now. We know going in to every match that we are going to have a chance to win but we also have a chance to lose. The more familiar you are with these situations, the better you handle that each time, the better you recover and whether you win or lose, you move on to the next one.”

After Friday’s match against Virginia Tech the Irish have a quick turnaround, traveling to Kentucky to take on No. 33 Louisville on Sunday. Irish welcome the action=packed weekend of competition, Monaghan said.

“We’re getting excited because we’ve only had one match per weekend the last few weeks, and we feel like our guys are playing well, and we are anxious to build on it,” Sachire said. “Virginia Tech is a great team. We played them last year and won 4-3, but they’ve returned all their players, and Louisville is a traditional rival from the east conference. It’s a new version of that rivalry. Certainly, it is a big weekend for us and we just want to play our best tennis of the season.”

The Irish will face Virginia Tech at the Burrows-Burleson Center in Blacksburg, Virginia, on Friday at 2 p.m., and Louisville at the Bass-Rudd Tennis Center on Sunday at 12 p.m.

 

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