Feb. 27, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 47 University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team will face a tough challenge Sunday as the Irish host the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Below, find all you need to know ahead of this weekend’s action:
Scouting Ohio State
The Buckeyes are off to a tremendous start, with their lone loss coming against current No. 1 North Carolina in the quarterfinals of the ITA Indoor Team Championships. Ohio State has defeated the likes of No. 26 Texas, No. 46 Virginia Tech, No. 34 Baylor, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 41 Florida and, most recently, No. 21 Penn State on Friday.
The Buckeyes boast four ranked singles players: No. 6 Mikael Torpegaard (8-0), No. 17 Hugo Di Feo (6-2), No. 32 Chris Diaz (3-3) and No. 45 Herkko Pollanen (3-2), while Martin Joyce (7-0) and Ralf Steinbach (10-1) also boast stellar records. In doubles, they’re led by No. 13 Steinbach and Joyce (5-3) and No. 19 Pollanen and Torpegaard (4-3).
With 85 career doubles wins, senior Alex Lawson has moved into fourth place on the all-time Irish doubles win list. His 85-46 (.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. 9 ranking with partner Quentin Monaghan, and has qualified for the past two NCAA Doubles Championships with former partners Andrews (’14) and Pecor (’15).
The Irish fell 16 spots in last week’s Oracle/ITA Men’s Team Rankings, coming in at No. 47 after splitting last Sunday’s doubleheader and falling to then-No. 47 Kentucky. Seniors Quentin Monaghan and Alex Lawson ranked at No. 9 in the newest national doubles rankings – though the pair has not played together since January 29 – while Monaghan rose from No. 51 to No. 40 in the singles poll.
Last Time Out
The Irish hosted a doubleheader last Sunday, splitting the pair as they fell to then-No. 47 Kentucky 4-0 before defeating Western Michigan 4-0 in the nightcap.
The Irish and Wildcats played three close doubles matches, but it was all Kentucky in singles. The Wildcats claimed victories on courts 2, 3 and 5 to clinch the decision.
In the nightcap, the Irish battled from behind on four singles courts to take the deceiving 4-0 victory. After winning the doubles point, senior Quentin Monaghan and junior Eddy Covalschi snared straight-set victories on Courts 1 & 2 to give the Irish a 3-0 lead. But the Broncos had won the first set on the four remaining courts to gain a decided advantage. It was freshman Grayson Broadus who battled from going down 6-1 in the first set to gather a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory and ultimately clinch the match for Notre Dame.
The Irish will host a free tennis clinic beginning approximately 10 minutes following Sunday’s match, which will be run by Notre Dame players and coaches. The clinic is open to all ages and will last 30 minutes.
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.