Nov. 5, 2014
ITA CENTRAL – Live Scores, Draws and Updates
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis program knows that success in the individual fall season does not necessarily provide any distinct advantages heading into the spring.
Still, with the way the Irish have been playing lately – particularly on the doubles side – they are aware of their unique position heading into this weekend’s USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The Fighting Irish are one of two programs sending two pairs of doubles squads to the tournament, with Texas Christian University also claiming the distinction. Sophomores Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi earned their bid by defeating the top two seeds at the Midwest Regional qualifier. The 27th-ranked tandem of senior Billy Pecor and junior Alex Lawson – whom Hagar and Covalschi defeated in the regional semifinal – secured an at-large bid.
“We’re really excited about that. Doubles is something that we put a lot of work into and we’ve been playing around with some different combinations, but we are definitely very excited to have two teams representing Notre Dame at Nationals,” Pecor said. “It just shows that we’re doing everything right on a consistent basis and putting a lot of hard work into it and it’s paying off.”
The Irish quartet will give the Irish five players in total that will have played in the main draw of ITA Grand Slam events this season. Junior Quentin Monaghan went 4-1 in the main singles draw of the ITA All-American Championships, while Pecor and Lawson advanced to the quarterfinals of the same tournament.
The most pleasant surprise has been the emergence of Hagar and Covalschi as a duo. They were first paired together for the regional championship and have compiled a 6-0 record since. Not only did they defeat a ranked squad in Pecor and Lawson, but they also dispatched No. 16 Ralf Steinbach and Kevin Metka (Ohio State) by a razor-thin margin in the final.
The Irish hope Hagar and Covalschi’s early success bodes well for the future, both this year and beyond.
“I think it’s fair to say [we came out of nowhere] since this was our first time to play together this year. We have tremendous confidence in ourselves and I think being the same year [in school], we know what each other have been through in our time here,” Hagar said. “I think having that sort of knowledge about your partner and your teammate really builds chemistry when you’re on the court with them in tournaments and in practice, too. It’s been really good to play with Eddy and I’m looking forward to playing with him this weekend and hopefully in the future, as well.”
Head coach Ryan Sachire’s squad hopes to use the momentum it has accumulated as a kind of jump-start once the dual season rolls around. Still, the Irish aren’t keen on looking too far ahead. For a program focused on “the process” – the day-to-day activities that, when added up, result in success – the most important thing is tackling the challenge directly in front of them.
“You ultimately can’t control whether you win or lose,” Sachire said. “You can control how you prepare and how you compete and we want our guys to do that to the best of their ability and if they do that they can be really successful.”
Pecor and Lawson will kick off the weekend for the Irish at 1 p.m. Thursday against Denis Nguyen and Brian Yeung of Harvard in the Round of 32. Hagar and Covalschi, who received a bye, will play in the Round of 16 at 4 p.m. Thursday. For access to draws, live scores and more information on the 2014 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, visit the official ITA event page. You can also follow along on Twitter, @NDMensTennis, and Facebook.
By Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant