Irish slowed by ACC opponents
Ryan Klaus | Friday, May 15, 2015
Notre Dame got off to a fast start this season, winning six of its first seven matches. However, as the Irish began their ACC slate, wins became harder to come by.
“I think clearly there’s been a lot of growth from a lot of individuals throughout this year,” Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said. “We’ve had a tough time putting our best lineup on the court every time because of injuries and other things like that, but that gave other guys opportunities to step up and play in the lineup when they normally wouldn’t or play higher in the lineup than they normally would.”
The Irish (14-11, 6-6 ACC) began the season with nonconference wins over Kentucky, Oklahoma State and Northwestern. After a 6-1 start, the Irish dropped matches to highly-ranked opponents Ohio State (currently No. 11) and Illinois (No. 4) before starting ACC play.
Notre Dame’s daunting conference schedule included matches against five current top-15 teams: Virginia (No. 3), Duke (No. 10), Wake Forest (No. 12), North Carolina (No. 13) and Virginia Tech (No. 15).
“I think with the ACC, first and foremost, it’s clear that it’s the best overall conference in the country,” Sachire said. “We’ve played a difficult schedule and challenged ourselves as much as anyone in the country.”
Following an up-and-down second half of the season, the Irish finished with a .500 conference record, which earned them the seventh seed in the ACC tournament. But Notre Dame’s stay at the ACC championships in Cary, North Carolina, was cut short after a first round 4-0 loss to Georgia Tech.
Despite the early conference tournament exit, Notre Dame earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, where it fell to No. 24 Vanderbilt in the first round, 4-1.
Outside of team accomplishments, three individual Irish players will participate in the NCAA tournament on May 20-25 in Waco, Texas. Junior Quentin Monaghan compiled a 29-6 record as the No. 1 singles player for the Irish and is ranked ninth nationally. Notre Dame’s top doubles pairing of junior Alex Lawson and senior Billy Pecor, ranked 15th nationally, also had a standout season, finishing 24-8. The pair earned an at-large bid to play in the doubles portion of the NCAA tournament.
“They’ve had great years for us,” Sachire said of the three qualifiers. “They’ve been spots that we’ve been really successful at all year. Our team’s played a great a schedule and great competition, but certainly the individuals have done the same thing.”