Feb. 28, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — An electrified atmosphere provided the backdrop for a competitive day of tennis between the 14th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team and No. 3 Illinois on Saturday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. But while the Irish took the match to the final team point, it was not enough as the Illini prevailed 4-3.
It was the first time in 10 meetings in the series in which the visiting team won, dating back to 2006.
“We’ve played a ton of matches like this this year and hat’s off to Illinois; they were just a little bit better than us today,” head coach Ryan Sachire said. “We’re certainly proud of the way our guys competed and went after it, we just came up a little short. The process and the way we went about things was right, so we’re proud of that.”
The Irish were without junior Eric Schnurrenberger (injury), and thus played with two new doubles combinations. No. 19 Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi moved up a spot to play on Court 1, while Billy Pecor and Alex Lawson split up to play with Dougie Barnard and Quentin Monaghan, respectively.
The doubles switch showed no ill effects, as the Irish claimed the point with wins on Courts 1 and 3. After Lawson and Monaghan dropped their match to Jared Hiltzik and Farris Gosea, 6-3, Pecor and Barnard secured a 6-4 victory over Aron Hiltzik and Toshiba Matsuya, leaving Court 1 to a tiebreaker.
Battling back and forth all match, Covalschi and Hagar rose to the occasion in the tiebreaker, winning 7-6(4) over No. 14 Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski to give Notre Dame the lead.
Illinois returned the favor quickly in singles play, earning the first two singles wins to take a 2-1 team lead. The Illini’s No. 33 Kopinski defeated Covalschi 6-1, 6-2, while No. 44 Aleks Vukic defeated Billy Pecor 7-6(4), 6-0.
Lawson tied it again on Court 6, beating Matsuya 7-6(4), 6-3 to earn his first victory over an opponent on a ranked team. On Court 2, No. 102 Hagar battled No. 19 Jared Hiltzik to take a 4-2 lead in the second set, but ultimately fell 6-4, 7-6(4).
Monaghan, the ITA’s 24th-ranked singles player, once again knotted things at 3-3, recording his sixth-straight win with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Gosea. That left Nicolas Montoya and No. 67 Aron Hiltzik on Court 5, but the Illini representative came back from a first-set setback to clinch the match for Illinois with a 7-6(6), 6-0, 6-0 win.
The Irish open Atlantic Coast Conference play next Friday when they head to Blacksburg, Virginia, to face No. 35 Virginia Tech before swinging through Louisville to face the 38th-ranked Cardinals on Sunday. For the latest updates on Irish men’s tennis, follow @NDMensTennison Twitter and like Notre Dame Men’s Tennison Facebook.
No. 3 Illinois 4, No. 14 Notre Dame 3
1. No. 24 Quentin Monaghan (ND) def. No. 52 Farris Gosea (ILL), 6-4, 6-4
2. No. 19 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) def. No. 102 Josh Hagar (ND), 6-4, 7-6(4)
3. No. 33 Tim Kopinski (ILL) def. Eddy Covalschi (ND), 6-1, 6-2
4. No. 44 Aleks Vukic (ILL) def. Billy Pecor (ND), 7-6(4), 6-0
5. No. 67 Aron Hiltzik (ILL) def. Nicolas Montoya (ND), 6-7(6), 6-0, 6-0
6. Alex Lawson (ND) def. Toshiki Matsuya (ILL), 7-6(4), 6-3
1. No. 19 Josh Hagar / Eddy Covalschi (ND) def. No. 14 Ross Guignon / Tim Kopinski (ILL) 7-6(4)
2. Jared Hiltzik / Farris Gosea (ILL) def. Alex Lawson / Quentin Monaghan (ND), 6-3
3. Billy Pecor / Dougie Barnard (ND) def. Aron Hiltzik / Toshiki Matsuya (ILL), 6-4,
Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant