Feb. 20, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 31 University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team will host a split doubleheader Sunday, welcoming recent rival Kentucky and Western Michigan to the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
WHAT: Matches 10 & 11
WHO: No. 31 Notre Dame (5-4) vs. No. 47 Kentucky (5-3) | No. 31 Notre Dame vs. Western Michigan (8-3)
WHEN: 10 a.m. ET & 6 p.m. ET, February 21, 2016
WHERE: Eck Tennis Pavilion (Notre Dame, Ind.)
FOLLOW: | | Live Stream
Below, find all you need to know ahead of this weekend’s action:
The Wildcats enter Sunday’s contest with a 5-3 record with notable wins over Duke and Michigan. Kentucky fell to No. 21 Northwestern 6-1 in the Wildcats’ last match. They are led by No. 25 William Bushamuka, who has posted a 6-1 singles record and vaulted up the most recent Oracle/ITA rankings from No. 79. Also leading the Wildcats in singles wins is Ryotaro Matsumara, who is 7-1 play at Nos. 1 & 2.
The Irish are 16-15-1 all-time against the Wildcats, including 3-0 under head coach Ryan Sachire. Each of the last three matches between Notre Dame and Kentucky have ended in 4-3 Irish wins, including back-to-back victories during the 2013 season when the Irish won the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Lexington, Kentucky, and hosted the Wildcats in regular-season play a week later.
Scouting Western Michigan
The Broncos are 8-3 on the season and enter Sunday’s contest on a four-match win streak. Western Michigan’s biggest win came against Purdue on January 23. Ruben Greiner is undefeated in singles at 6-0 for the Broncos, while Daniel Loebel is 8-2. The Irish are 41-20 all-time against Western Michigan, but the teams have not met in dual competition since 1990.
With 84 career doubles wins, senior Alex Lawson has moved into fourth place on the all-time Irish doubles win list. His 84-46 (.646) puts him just behind Jakub Pietrowski (95-45), Greg Andrews (93-50) and Billy Pecor (88-45) on the career register. Lawson has been ranked within the top 10 in doubles in each of the last three seasons, including his current No. 6 ranking with partner Quentin Monaghan, and has qualified for the past two NCAA Doubles Championships with former partners Andrews (’14) and Pecor (’15).
After posting an impressive win over Michigan last Saturday, the Irish moved up five spots to No. 31 in the most recent Oracle/ITA Men’s Team Rankings. Seniors Quentin Monaghan and Alex Lawson remained ranked at No. 6 in the newest national doubles rankings, while Monaghan fell to No. 51 in the singles poll (from No. 37).
Last Time Out
The Irish hosted Michigan last Saturday, defeating a Wolverines team that had won five in a row and beaten No. 25 Duke the week before. Notre Dame took the doubles point with wins on Courts 2 and 3, then won five of six singles matches en route to a dominating 6-1 win. The victory was highlighted by senior and 51st-ranked Quentin Monaghan’s 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 73 Jathan Malik at the No. 1 slot, while junior Eddy Covalschi also breezed to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Davis Crocker at No. 3.
ITA Rules Changes
This season, the NCAA with the support of the ITA, will utilize a no-ad scoring format for the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s tennis championships. If a game reaches deuce, the next point will win the game. Additionally, eight-game pro-sets will no longer be utilized in doubles matches, with teams playing one set to six, with a tiebreak at six-all. At the individual doubles championships, matches will consist of the best-of-three sets, with a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set. The rules changes are designed to improve the pace of play in championship matches.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.