Notre Dame takes on No. 3 Illinois
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, February 27, 2015
Coming off its loss to No. 8 Ohio State last weekend, Notre Dame is set to return to action Saturday against No. 3 Illinois.
The No. 14 Irish (6-2) had their four-game winning streak snapped by the Buckeyes and were also dealt their most lopsided loss of the season, falling 6-1.
After failing to snap Ohio State’s NCAA-record 201-match home winning streak, Notre Dame faces its own difficult challenge at home versus the Illini (11-2). Illinois is the highest ranked team the Irish have faced all season.
Illinois is riding a two-game winning streak, with both wins coming against opponents Notre Dame has already faced this season. On Feb. 15, the Illini defeated Ohio State in a neutral court match in Chicago. They also beat Northwestern at home, 5-2, Friday. Notre Dame bested the latter, 4-3, on Jan. 30.
Notre Dame’s match against Illinois will cap a string of four straight contests against Big Ten opponents. Following Friday’s match, the Irish start ACC conference play and will not have another non-conference match until they play Detroit on Mar. 15.
Overall, Notre Dame’s non-conference schedule has been top-heavy; including the Illini, its first nine matches have included five teams currently ranked in the top 25.
Within the top-25 team matchup Friday, there will be another top-25 matchup at both the top singles and doubles spots. Irish junior Quentin Monaghan, who has not lost a singles match since Jan. 24, is currently ranked No. 24 and is slated to face off with Illinois junior Jared Hiltzik, ranked 19th nationally. In doubles, the No. 7 pair of Notre Dame junior Alex Lawson and senior Billy Pecor will take on seniors Tim Kopinksi and Ross Guignon, who are No. 14.
This match was originally scheduled for Feb. 2 but was postponed due to inclement weather.
The Irish and Illini are set to square off Saturday at 4 p.m. in Eck Tennis Pavilion.