Senior Billy Pecor (pictured) and partner Alex Lawson knocked off No. 7 Ralf Steinbach and Kevin Metka in the first round of the NCAA Doubles Tournament, becoming the first Irish tandem to advance to the Round of 16 since 1998.

Irish Trio Advance to Round of 16 At NCAA Singles & Doubles Championships

May 21, 2015


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WACO, Texas — A trio of University of Notre Dame men’s tennis players cemented their place among the Fighting Irish greats on Thursday, with one singles representative and a doubles squad advancing to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Men’s DI Singles and Doubles Championships at the Hurd Tennis Center at Baylor University.

Junior Quentin Monaghan extended his first trip to the sport’s individual tournament, dispatching No. 25 Roberto Quiroz of USC 6-4, 6-4 in the Round of 32. As the doubles competition kicked off, Notre Dame’s 15th-ranked pair of senior Billy Pecor and junior Alex Lawson knocked off No. 7 Ralf Steinbach and Kevin Metka of Ohio State in a thrilling 7-6 (3), 7-6 (1) victory. The three Irish players are the first to advance to the tournament’s Round of 16 in several seasons, respectively.

Monaghan further underscored his All-American status in his straight-set victory to start the morning. Already an All-American by virtue of receiving one of the championship’s top 16 seeds, he checked off another of the three possible criteria by moving on to the Round of 16.

Monaghan credited his service game in allowing him to get into an early rhythm and knock off aggressive points in pressure situations.

“Overall, I felt like I played a really solid match from start to finish, but my serve enabled me to play aggressive and step up in the big moments,” Monaghan said. “I also thought I competed pretty well and didn’t give him a lot of room to get back in the match, which was nice.”

The pair traded service games in the first set until Monaghan led 5-4, but the Irish junior got the match’s first break when it counted and took the first set 6-4.

Monaghan picked up where he left off to start the second, picking up a quick break to begin the set. He needed just to hold the rest of the match, and he served out a sweep in the final game to complete the 6-4, 6-4 victory.

“Getting to the [Round of 16] means so much to me,” Monaghan said. “It’s my first year playing in the individual tournament and it is really special to win matches against some of the best players in the country. It also means the world to me to be representing the University of Notre Dame. I have so much pride in playing for this school and am happy that I’ve been able to take advantage of the many opportunities I have been given by my coaches and teammates.”

Monaghan is the first Irish player to reach the Round of 16 since Sheeva Parbhu made the quarterfinals in 2006. He will face No. 32 Jakob Sude of Oklahoma State in Thursday’s matchup. Sude will the be the third repeat opponent for Monaghan in the tournament, as the two met during the ITA Kickoff Weekend on January 25. Sude took the match in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

“We had a great battle earlier in the year and he’s a great player,” Monaghan said. “I think I just need to stay a little calmer in the big moments and trust my game more this time around. I’ll be ready for a battle and hopefully I can play a great match.”

Action shifted to doubles in the afternoon as Lawson and Pecor faced off with Steinbach and Metka in the tournament’s opening round. In what was perhaps the closest match of the season for the Irish duo, neither team managed to break serve in regular game play.

Returning to the best-of-three format after playing pro-sets during the dual season, each set went to a tiebreaker at 6-all. Fortunately for them, Pecor and Lawson have thrived in tiebreaker situations this season, going 6-0 in those matches dating back to the fall. The Irish tallied the first four points of the first-set tiebreaker before trading the final six to win the breaker 7-3. In the second set, they plowed through the Ohio State duo, allowing just one point in the extra round.

It was a bit of payback from when the teams met earlier this season, when Steinbach and Metka defeated Pecor and Lawson in a dual match, 6-3.

“The match was a battle,” Pecor said. “Both teams were serving well and executing the plays they wanted to run. There were 24 straight holds of serve, which I feel doesn’t happen that often. The key for Al and I is that we were locked in from the first point in both tiebreaks and were able to put some score pressure on OSU. We used that to build confidence and take control. I think that’s something we’ve done well in tiebreaks this season and makes us a very tough team to beat, even if we aren’t returning our best.”

Pecor and Lawson are the first Irish duo to advance to the NCAA Doubles Championship’s Round of 16 since Brian Patterson and Jakub Pietrowski did so in 1998.

“I don’t really look at what’s happened in the past,” Pecor said. “It’s exciting to hear stats like this and be a part of a great program in Notre Dame. We’re here to win the tournament and make some history ourselves with the ND on our chest.”

The Irish duo will face No. 14 Boris Arias and Jordan Daigle of LSU on Thursday. Times and court locations will be determined later this evening.

For the latest Irish tennis updates, follow @NDMensTennis on Twitter and like Notre Dame Men’s Tennis on Facebook.

NCAA Men’s DI Singles Championship
May 20-25, 2015
First Round
No. 9 Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. No. 33 Farris Gosea (ILL), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Second Round
No. 9 Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. No. 25 Roberto Quiroz (USC), 6-4, 6-4

Round of 16
No. 9 Quentin Monaghan (ND) vs. No. 32 Jakob Sude (OKST), TBD

NCAA Men’s DI Doubles Championship
May 21-25, 2015
First Round
No. 15 Billy Pecor / Alex Lawson (ND) def. No. 7 Ralf Steinbach / Kevin Metka (OSU), 7-6(3), 7-6(1)
Round of 16
No. 15 Billy Pecor / Alex Lawson (ND) vs. No. 14 Boris Arias / Jordan Daigle (LSU), TBD

Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant