Jan. 25, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team anticipated its fair share of close matches this season, and the first three matches for the Irish have lived up to the billing.
Yet neither of the season’s first two matches could equal just how competitive the showdown between No. 14 Notre Dame and No. 16 Columbia in the final of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend turned out to be. Two of three doubles matches went to tiebreakers, while all six singles matches saw third sets, but the Irish fell short for the first time as the Lions won 4-2 Sunday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
“We were right there with them until the last ball,” head coach Ryan Sachire said. “When you have two doubles matches decided in tiebreakers and then all six singles matches go six sets, you really can’t get a whole lot closer than that. They outperformed us at the end of the match, but we’ve got to hold our heads up high. We played a great match; we competed the right way; I’m really proud of what we did.”
It was a dramatic fight for the doubles point, in which all three matches went to completion to open the day. The Irish No. 3 duo of Quentin Monaghan and Eric Schnurrenberger quickly dispatched Richard Pham and Bert Vancura, 6-2, but it took tiebreakers to decide the matches on Courts 1 and 2. Ninth-ranked Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi lost a heartbreaker at the No. 2 slot as Mike Vermeer and Winston Lin made up a 1-4 deficit and claimed a 7-6 (4) comeback win for Columbia. The Irish got the opposite outcome at No. 1 doubles, however, as No. 8 Billy Pecor and Alex Lawson played from behind all match but snagged a 7-6 (3) upset win over No. 6 Max Schnur and Ashok Narayana to give Notre Dame a 1-0 team lead.
Singles proved to be just as tough. The Irish lost four first sets, but battled to force thirds. At No. 5 singles, Pecor rallied after losing a lead in the first set to take the final two frames, defeating Bert Vancura 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. Hagar, the ITA’s 82nd-ranked singles player, battled back from a poor first set against Dragos Ignat at No. 2, but fell 6-2, 4-6, 5-7. Covalschi and Schnur traded jabs in a close match at the No. 3 slot that ultimately went to Columbia, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.
No. 37 Monaghan nearly completed a comeback over No. 22 Winston Lin at No. 1, but the match went unfinished when Columbia clinched the team win with Schnur’s triumph. Monaghan forced a third-set tiebreaker and held an advantage before the match was called. The effort stood out to Sachire given the level of competition.
“You’ve got to be very impressed with what Quentin Monaghan did,” Sachire said. “He was winning in the third-set tiebreaker against arguably one of the top 10 players in the country in Winston Lin. That was a great result for him.”
Schnurrenberger (No. 4) and Lawson (No. 6) each won their first sets, but dropped the final two as Columbia sealed the victory.
“The schedule we play is loaded with great teams and we’re going to be in a lot of these matches,” Sachire said. “That’s the way our year is going to be. The (Atlantic Coast Conference) is the best tennis conference in the country with a lot of great teams, a lot of national championship contenders, and we’re going to find ourselves in these battles like this. Every time you go through it, you become a little bit better because of it. … I’m really proud of the team and how we competed and we’ll benefit from this going forward.”
The Irish return to action at 5:30 p.m. ET Friday when they welcome No. 28 Northwestern to the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Be sure to follow the Irish on Twitter, @NDMensTennis, and like the team on Facebook for all the latest updates.
No. 16 Columbia 4, No. 14 Notre Dame 2
1. No. 37 Quentin Monaghan (ND) vs. No. 22 Winston Lin (COL), 2-6, 6-4, 6-6, unfinished
2. Dragos Ignat (COL) def. No. 82 Josh Hagar (ND), 6-2, 4-6, 7-5
3. Max Schnur (COL) def. Eddy Covalschi (ND), 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
4. Ashok Narayana (COL) def. Eric Schnurrenberger (ND), 1-6, 7-5, 6-4
5. Billy Pecor (ND) def. Bert Vancura (COL), 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
6. No. 124 Mike Vermeer (COL) def. Alex Lawson (ND), 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
By Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant