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Men’s Tennis

Sabacinski secures Irish win in final flight

| Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Notre Dame split a pair of home ACC matches over the weekend to close out its conference slate, falling to No. 12 Wake Forest 4-3 Friday before defeating North Carolina State by the same margin Saturday.

The Irish (14-10, 6-6 ACC) won the doubles point against the Demon Deacons (20-6, 9-3) on Friday but could not hold on for the victory.

The action began with doubles play as the Irish duo of senior Billy Pecor and junior Alex Lawson — ranked 12th nationally — defeated Wake Forest’s 10th-ranked freshmen duo of Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim by an 8-5 margin.

Junior All-American candidate Quentin Monaghan and senior Dougie Barnard clinched the doubles point for Notre Dame, winning 8-6 at No. 3 doubles to give the Irish the early lead.

However, the tide turned during singles play.

Monaghan saw his team- and season-high individual winning streak end at 12, falling to Demon Deacons freshman Noah Rubin in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.

Despite the loss, the junior said he needed to remain honed in on the big picture.

“The biggest thing is staying focused on the process and doing everything in my power to be the best I can be and for us to be the best team we can be,” Monaghan said.

The uncharacteristic loss for the No. 9-ranked player set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

Junior Eddy Covalschi lost in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 at No. 3 singles while Mansouri defeated Pecor 6-2, 6-2 to put Wake Forest on the brink of a win.

Lawson pulled back a win at No. 5 singles to cut the deficit to 3-2, but the Demon Deacons clinched the match when junior Romain Bogaerts defeated junior Josh Hagar 6-3, 6-1 at No. 2 singles.

Junior Kenneth Sabacinski claimed a consolation win at No. 6 singles to finish the day’s play.

But the Irish rebounded Saturday against the Wolfpack (17-10, 5-7) for a 4-3 win.

Once again, Notre Dame snagged the doubles point to take an early lead, taking wins at the No. 1 and No. 3 flights.

Monaghan and Barnard got the Irish on the board with an 8-6 win at No. 3 doubles before Lawson and Pecor won again at No. 1 doubles to seal the point, also winning by an 8-6 margin.

Monaghan returned to form in the day’s first singles’ match, making quick work of NC State senior Robbie Mudge in a 6-4, 6-1 win to put the Irish up 2-0.

The Irish took a commanding 3-0 lead when Hagar’s opponent retired in the second set. Hagar was up 2-0 at the time after taking the first set 7-5.

But the Wolfpack did not go down without a fight.

The comeback began when NC State senior Austin Powell defeated the Irish’s Covalschi 7-5, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.

Then, the Wolfpack took third-set wins at both No. 6 singles through senior Beck Bond and No. 5 singles via junior Thomas Weigel to knot the contest 3-3.

With the match tied up, the pressure laid squarely on the shoulders of Sabacinski at the No. 4 flight.

He won the first set 6-3 against Wolfpack sophomore Nick Horton but narrowly dropped the second set in a tiebreak, setting up a decisive third set. With the match on the line, he delivered for Notre Dame, taking the third set 6-2.

“That win gives me a ton of confidence moving into the ACC tournament,” Sabacinski said. “Overall, I thought the team had a pretty good weekend.”

Notre Dame will begin the ACC tournament Wednesday in Cary, North Carolina, against Georgia Tech at 9 a.m.

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