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Men’s Tennis

Irish take down Lightning, smash 34-game home win streak

| Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Notre Dame men’s tennis took down Middle Tennessee State this Sunday, in Murfreesboro, TN.

The Irish broke the Lightning’s home win streak. Handing the Lightning a 5-2 loss in Adams Tennis Complex, the Irish ended an impressive list of 34 straight wins at home in three and a half hours.

The first doubles match to close was the No. 2 game. Irish sophomore Jean-Marc Malkowski and graduate student Aditya Vashistha fell to Oskar Poulsen and Francisco Rocha, 6-2. This was the quickest of the doubles matches, a seemingly strong start for the Lightning, but the other two Irish doubles teams found their extra gear.

A brand-new Irish pair, graduate student Peter Conklin and junior Matthew Halpin, found a way to beat a long-standing, then-unbeaten pair in Chris Edge and Stepan Holis. Conklin and Halpin won 7-6 (9-7).

The doubles results were split and it fell to the No. 1 court. Irish junior Matthew Che and senior Axel Nefve found a way to save multiple match points. In doing so, they found their stride to clamber to a 7-6(11-9) win over Stijn Slump and Pavel Motl. Slump and Motl were the No. 44 doubles team in the country, and it was their loss that rocketed the Irish to the doubles point.

Singles started with an immediate win for the Lightning, but the Irish quickly retaliated. Rocha stepped up again to defeat Notre Dame’s Vashistha in straight sets (6-2, 6-1). However, Nefve took down No. 30 ranked Slump 6-4 and then 6-1. Conklin answered immediately to put the Irish up 3-1 in the match. Conklin mirrored Rocha’s win directly, defeating Holis 6-1 and 6-2. At the time, Holis ranked No. 106 in the country.

Then, in the No. 3 match, Edge took down Che for the Lightning, but it was the first of the singles matches to be less convincing (7-6 (7-4), 6-4). Despite how tight each set was, Edge’s win brought match relevance back to the last two courts to finish. At 3-2, the Lightning could turn the match around.

It was Malkowski though who would reestablish thebarrier for the Irish. Against Motl, he took the first and the third set, despite faltering slightly in the second (6-4, 3-6, 6-1).

To drive home the victory, Irish freshman Brian Bilsey took down Poulsen in a tight match. After losing the first set to Poulsen, Bilsey resurfaced to win the second and gain multiple match points back in the third to bring the Irish to 5-2 (4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2)).

This weekend, the Irish face a full slate coming in from Illinois. At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Irish will take on the Fighting Illini at Eck Tennis Pavilion. Then on Sunday, the Irish are in the Eck Pavilion again to face two teams from the Windy City — Northwestern at noon and Chicago State at 5 p.m.

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