Feb. 27, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 14 University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team will both look to get back on the winning track and notch a marquee win when it welcomes 3rd-ranked Illinois to the Eck Tennis Pavilion for a 4 p.m. ET contest Saturday.
Over the past several seasons, the Irish and Illini have traded wins each year. Since 2006, the home team in the series has prevailed, including in 2011, when the teams met in both Urbana, Illinois, and South Bend.
Head coach Ryan Sachire said that familiarity breeds a competitiveness among the teams, regardless of record or rank.
“We play Illinois every year and we’re in a number of the same fall tournaments, so we know their players and the two teams are really familiar with each other,” Sachire said. “It doesn’t matter who’s the favorite or who’s ranked where, any time there’s familiarity, any times there’s a rivalry, it’s going to be a competitive match. We’re going to have to play our best match of the season.”
The Illini hold an 11-2 record on the year, with losses only to No. 4 Duke and No. 7 Georgia. They have claimed impressive victories over No. 5 Baylor, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 18 California, No. 19 North Carolina and No. 20 Northwestern.
Illinois has five players ranked in the ITA singles poll top 70: No. 19 Jared Hiltzik, No. 33 Tom Kosinski, No. 44 Aleks Vukic, No. 52 Farris Gosea and No. 67 Aron Hiltzik. The doubles pairing of Tom Kosinski and Ross Guignon is ranked 14th in the nation.
Sachire stressed the importance of putting together a complete match against the stacked Illini lineup, something he said he has yet to see this season. The Irish will counter with one of the nation’s top doubles lineups in No. 7 Billy Pecor and Alex Lawson and No. 19 Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi, as well as Quentin Monaghan and Eric Schnurrenberger, who are 4-2 in the No. 3 doubles spot. Monaghan is the 24th-ranked singles player in the nation, while Hagar is No. 102.
“It’s going to be important for us at all nine spots to play a good match,” Sachire said. “It’s one thing that we maybe haven’t done to this point in the season, putting a complete match out there where all nine spots are really clicking and playing well. To get four points on Saturday, we’re going to have to play well at all nine spots.”
The Illini will take on Valparaiso at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion before taking on the Irish in the afternoon. Fans in attendance for the match between Notre Dame and Illinois will receive a free “Protect The Eck” T shirt. Free pizza and drinks will also be available.
SCORING FORMAT CHANGE: The Atlantic Coast Conference has moved to re-implement the regular scoring format utilized in 2014. Earlier this season, matches were played with no-ad scoring, based on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s recommendations for increasing pace of play. All conference matches will once again include an eight-game pro-set for the doubles point with a tiebreak at 7-7, and advantage scoring will be used. For men’s play, all doubles and singles matches will be played out unless agreed upon by both head coaches prior to the start of the match.
RANKINGS UPDATE: In the latest ITA team poll, the first computerized poll of the season, the Irish jumped three spots to No. 14, where they started the spring season. The Irish take on third-ranked Illinois, which moved up three spots from No. 6, on Saturday. The Irish are 1-2 against the top 25 this season, but 4-1 in home matches.
A SINGULAR PERFORMER: In the latest ITA singles poll, junior Quentin Monaghan jumped five spots to No. 24. Monaghan has won five straight matches since falling to Oklahoma State’s Jakob Sude in the second match of the season. His last four wins at No. 1 singles have been in straight sets.
DOUBLES DOMINANCE: Doubles partners Billy Pecor and Alex Lawson are the only ACC doubles duo to be ranked in the ITA top 10 at No. 7. With No. 19 Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar, the Irish join TCU as the only programs in the country with two doubles pairs in the ITA top 20.
Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant