May 8, 2015
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Once the postseason commences, expectations of close contests heighten, and the first-round NCAA Championship matchup between the University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team and Vanderbilt did not falter in that regard.
But even as a pair of doubles contests ended in tiebreakers and two singles matches went to third sets (with a second-set tiebreaker thrown in), the No. 35 Fighting Irish found themselves on the wrong side of a 4-1 loss to the 24th-ranked Commodores on Friday at the Varsity Tennis Center on the campus of Ohio State.
Vanderbilt (20-7) won the doubles point in one of the closest doubles sessions the Irish have played this season. On Court 2, No. 34 Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar went down by a break 3-1 early to Pen Binet and Ryan Smith, but broke back to take a 5-4 lead. It wouldn’t hold, though, and the Commodore duo notched an 8-5 win in the first doubles decision.
The match on Court 1 pitted No. 15 Billy Pecor and Alex Lawson against fifth-ranked Gonzalez Austin and Rhys Johnson. Both teams held serve throughout the match, but Pecor and Lawson prevailed in the tiebreaker to pull the Irish back even in doubles wins, 8-7(3). It was Pecor and Lawson’s high-ranked win of the season, with the previous highest being against then-No. 6 Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur of Columbia on January 25.
On Court 3, Dougie Barnard and Quentin Monaghan played a back-and-forth match with Baker Newman and Suresh Eswaran, at first trailing by a break before taking a 7-5 lead. The Commodores broke back to force a tiebreaker at 7-all, however, corralling the momentum to snare an 8-7(5) win and the doubles point.
Vanderbilt quickly picked up the first singles point as No. 88 Danny Valent defeated Covalschi 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3, but the Irish got on the board next as Lawson upended Eswaran in a speedy 6-2, 6-4 victory, putting the match away on an ace.
In a top-10 matchup on Court 1, the ninth-ranked Monaghan raced to a 6-0 one-set lead, but the 10th-ranked Austin evened things with a win in the second on a tiebreaker to force a third. On Court 2, Josh Hagar battled out of a one-break deficit to win the first set over Johnson 7-5, but the Commodore also forced an extra session with a 6-4 second-set triumph.
Those matches went uncompleted as Vanderbilt scored straight-set victories on Courts 4 and 6.
The Commodores went ahead 3-1 as Newman defeated Kenneth Sabacinski 6-3, 6-4 on Court 6. At the No. 4 slot, Pecor took 2-0 leads in both first and second sets, but was unable to hold and fell to Kris Yee 6-4, 7-5.
Three Irish individuals will continue play at the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships as Monaghan competes as a top 16 seed in the singles tournament and Lawson and Pecor compete in the doubles event May 20-25 at the Hurd Tennis Center in Waco, Texas.
No. 24 Vanderbilt 4, No. 35 Notre Dame 1
1. No. 9 Quentin Monaghan (ND) v. No. 10 Gonzalez Austin (VU), 6-0, 6-7(2), 1-4, unfinished
2. Josh Hagar (ND) v. Rhys Johnson (VU), 7-5, 4-6, 2-2, unfinished
3. No. 88 Dany Valent (VU) def. Eddy Covalschi (ND), 6-1, 6-0
4. Kris Yee (VU) def. Billy Pecor (ND), 6-4, 7-5
5. Alex Lawson (ND) def. Suresh Eswaran (VU), 6-2, 6-4
6. Baker Newman (VU) def. Kenneth Sabacinski (ND), 6-3, 6-4
1. No. 15 Alex Lawson / Billy Pecor (ND) def. No. 5 Gonzalez Austin / Rhys Johnson (VU), 8-7(3)
2. Pen Binet / Ryan Smith (VU) def. No. 34 Eddy Covalschi / Josh Hagar (ND), 8-5
3. Baker Newman / Suresh Eswaran (VU) def. Dougie Barnard / Quentin Monaghan (ND), 8-7(5)
Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant