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Irish set to take on Blue Devils

| Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Notre Dame continues its final road trip of the season Friday in Durham, North Carolina, against No. 5 Duke.

The Irish (12-7, 4-3 ACC) picked up two road victories last week in close matches against Miami (Fla.) and Florida State. Against the Hurricanes (7-10, 1-5), Notre Dame pulled out a 4-3 win that was capped by a victory by sophomore Josh Hagar at the third singles spot. The Irish also beat the Seminoles (16-6, 4-3), 4-3, after junior Alex Lawson clinched a comeback victory at the fifth singles spots. Following the two victories, Notre Dame’s conference record is above .500 for the first time this season.

“We were really proud of the effort of our guys last weekend,” Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said. “To be able to come out of that weekend with two wins was really significant for our team. Particularly against Florida State, we faced a lot of adversity, and we were really able to overcome that adversity.”

Despite four consecutive victories and two conference wins last week, the Irish face a daunting challenge ahead of them when they take on the Blue Devils (17-3, 5-2), who have yet to lose at home this season and are led by the 11th-ranked singles player in the nation, junior Nicholas Alvarez.

“Duke is a very talented team, obviously,” Sachire said. “They have a number of players that have been nationally ranked throughout their careers. We know it’s going to be a great challenge, but we also believe in ourselves a lot and know that if we play a good match and compete the way we’re capable of competing, we’re going to have a chance to win.”

Notre Dame is no stranger to facing highly ranked opponents this season. In addition to its matches in the ACC, Notre Dame played a nonconference schedule that included matches against current No. 3 Illinois, No. 11 Ohio State, No. 21 Texas Tech and No. 24 Northwestern.

The matchup between the Irish and the Blue Devils will be highlighted by an individual battle between Alvarez and Notre Dame’s Quentin Monaghan — ranked 17th nationally — at the top singles spot. Monaghan was named ACC Player of the Week last week and won both of his matches at singles against Miami (Fla.) and Florida State.

“Everybody that Quentin has played recently has been really good, and that comes with the territory of playing number one at a program like Notre Dame,” Sachire said. “For Quentin, it will be business as usual. He’s used to playing really high-level opponents. He’s going to have to be at or near his best to be successful, and he’s done a masterful job this season of performing well in every match he’s played for the most part. We really believe in him a lot and are confident that he can do well on Friday.”

The Irish and Blue Devils are set to square off 2 p.m. Friday at Ambler Tennis Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

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