March 9, 2015
By Sean McMinimee ’18
Step into Notre Dame’s Eck Tennis Pavilion during any given match and one thing becomes incredibly clear: Quentin Monaghan is dominant at the game of tennis.
Whether the junior is hitting a backhand with topspin or floating a lob shot just within the court bounds, Monaghan has shown his expertise in every aspect of the game. With an 8-2 dual match record that included a seven-match winning streak that spanned from January 30 to March 8, he has been incredible in his new position at No. 1 singles. Perhaps rather unsurprisingly, he has always possessed this ability.
Even as a freshman, Monaghan played mostly No. 2 singles, putting up an 18-5 record and collecting BIG EAST Freshman of the Year honors in 2012-13. His success continued in 2013-14, when he finished 13-8, also at No. 2.
“Quentin was a great individual performer for us both as a freshman and a sophomore,” head coach Ryan Sachire says. “He certainly contributed to the success of the team. He was a highly recruited player who came in and contributed right away.”
As the 2014-15 season kicked off Monaghan was faced with a plethora of new challenges. First, he would have to adjust to a new spot in the lineup, now up a spot to No. 1. He would now be playing the best opponents week in a week out, certainly an adjustment by itself.
“Coming out, I know I’ll be playing the other team’s best player, which means that I have to come to practice prepared and focused or else I’m not going to achieve the results I want,” Monaghan says. “I’m at the point now where I can’t take matches or sets off and scrap wins. If I’m not at my absolute best, I’m not going to win. It’s that simple.”
Although he has always found success on the court, Monaghan’s win streak, which ended with a loss to Louisville’s fifth-ranked Seb Steifelmeyer on Sunday, helped propel him up the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s singles rankings. Since the season began, he has risen from No. 37 in the country to No. 24.
“Quentin has been playing incredibly well recently and it’s been something special to watch,” Sachire says. “He is a captain, playing No. 1 singles and proving himself to be one of the best players in the entire country, and I couldn’t be happier with what he’s been doing.”
Performancewise, Monaghan is nothing but business, focusing his energy into his practice and preparation.
“I think approaching my game on a day-by-day basis has really been what has helped me and not thinking to big picture,” he says.
Monaghan’s dedication at practice and success on the court has caught the attention of both his coaches and peers. Perhaps because of this, Monaghan has emerged as one of the leaders of the team, another new role that he has been adjusting to on the fly.
“Last year Quentin was a great piece of what we were last year as a team, but this year he’s really elevated himself to that leader role whom everyone looks up to,” Sachire says. “As far as transitioning into becoming a leader, Quentin has done a fantastic job of handling it and evolving into a true leader.”
The Irish found themselves without an obvious leader at the beginning of the year after the graduation of two-year captain Greg Andrews, but Monaghan took what he learned as an underclassman and has begun to step into that role.
“I was able to learn a lot from my teammates the last two years and I figured it was my turn to teach these guys some of the things I’ve learned,” he says.
So far ,Monaghan has been doing a tremendous job both on and off the court, and the team is reaping the benefits. The Irish sit ranked inside the Top 25 nationally, with four wins over nationally ranked opponents amid a grueling schedule. And while the team has struggled recently with four straight losses, the Irish hope the lessons learned will pay dividends as the regular season progresses and on into the postseason.
“Eventually we’re going to have to play the best of the best, so why not do it early in the season so we can learn from it?” Monaghan says. “We’re trying to be a top 10 team, and you don’t get there without playing tough teams on a tougher schedule.”
More than anything else, Monaghan is excited to see the run he and his teammates can make into the NCAA Tournament this spring. But that won’t prevent Monaghan from aiming to make a deep run in the NCAA Singles Championship. Judging by his play of late, it appears he’s got a real shot at making this goal a reality.