Irish bounce back to claim their seventh win
Henry Hilliard | Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Coming off its first lost of the season, Notre Dame returned to its winning ways last night as it defeated Northwestern 4-1 in Evanston, Ill.
The No. 16 Irish (7-1) handed the No. 30 Wildcats (7-3) their first home loss of the spring campaign.
“Obviously losing magnifies any shortcomings you have as a team,” Irish coach Ryan Sachire said. “I thought we had a great week of practice coming off that Illinois loss and were able to really improve on a lot of things that held us back in that match. [Tuesday] against Northwestern we were competitive from the top down.”
In singles play, Notre Dame only needed four matches to put away the Wildcats as sophomore Quentin Monaghan, sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger, and freshman Eddy Covalschi notched victories for the Irish. Senior Ryan Bandy and freshman Josh Hagar’s matches went unfinished, while senior Greg Andrews lost the only Notre Dame singles match of the evening in the top spot against the Wildcats.
Monaghan’s victory for the Irish marked the first time he hit the court for competitive play during the spring season. His return from injury came in a match against Northwestern’s Sam Shropshire in the second slot. After winning the first set 6-4, Monahan was forced to come from behind in the second set. He faced set point three times before winning a tiebreaker that gave the Irish a 3-0 lead and set the stage for Covalschi to secure a victory on the evening.
“Quentin’s match was a huge turning point for us on the day. It really turned the doubles and pushed us to victory,” Sachire said.
Victory in doubles play did not come as easy for the Irish as all three doubles matches went to tiebreakers. After senior Billy Pecor and Hagar won their match in the second slot, Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson lost in the top spot despite returning from a 5-2 deficit. The doubles point came down to the third slot as the duo of Bandy and Schnurrenberger overcame their Wildcat opponents by a mark of 6-5(2), which gave Notre Dame the 1-0 advantage as the match proceeded to singles play.
“We didn’t play our best in doubles tonight,” Sachire said. “The difference in tonight’s match from the Illinois loss is that we were able to hang in there down the stretch and win even as we didn’t play our best tennis. Winning the doubles point really sets a positive tone for the rest of the match.”
As they enter the halfway point of their spring campaign, the Irish continue a stretch in which four of five matches in a row are scheduled on the road. Notre Dame is slated to head to Houston, TX this weekend for the ITA National Indoor Championships, which they qualified for by beating Kentucky and Minnesota on Jan. 24-25.
“We are going to take a day off before heading to Houston,” Sachire said. “I think our big focus when we get there will be on getting acclimated to the surface as much as we can before Friday’s match. I think a real point of emphasis for us will be to play aggressively, particularly in doubles play.”
After the Indoor Championships, the Irish will return to their Eck Tennis Pavilion the following week for a set of matches against Ohio St. and Ball St. on Feb. 22.