Feb. 20, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team will face its first top 10 challenger when it heads to Columbus, Ohio, for a Saturday showdown with No. 9 Ohio State.
The 17th-ranked Irish (6-1) have won four straight matches since a 4-2 setback to then-No. 16 Columbia in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend Championship in January. They will look to stop the Buckeyes’ NCAA record home win streak at 200 with a win on Saturday.
Head coach Ryan Sachire is looking for the Irish to build off last weekend’s win at Michigan, where – though Notre Dame prevailed 5-2 – he saw room for improvement.
“Any time you [have a trip like that] and do it successfully, you build confidence,” Sachire said. “We’re certainly going to have the same routine on Friday that we had at Michigan and hope for the same result on Saturday (at Ohio State). ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ I don’t think we played our cleanest match of the season, but we competed well and we got a good win over a good team.”
The trip to Ann Arbor – Notre Dame’s first road match in nearly a month – also allowed the Irish to again adjust to the particularities of playing on the road.
“I think the whole process of adjusting to a different building and adjusting to a different surface and the slight difference in how the ball bounces off the court, those things become habit a bit,” Sachire said. “You become better at it the more you have to do it. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ I think our guys did a relatively good job of making the adjustments (at Michigan) in terms of how they were going to play tactically relative to the surface.”
In the Buckeyes, the Irish will meet four ranked singles players in No. 30 Mikael Torpegaard, No. 53 Chris Diaz, No. 68 Ralf Steinbach and No. 110 Hunter Callahan. Ohio State also boasts two ranked singles teams in No. 7 Kevin Metka and Steinbach, and No. 36 Callahan and Diaz. Notre Dames 17th-ranked tandem, Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar, defeated Metka and Steinbach 7-6, 4-6, 12-10 in the championship match of the USTA/ITA Midwest Regionals in October, though the Buckeye pair will likely meet No. 4 Billy Pecor and Alex Lawson at the top of the doubles lineup.
The Irish will also look to erase recent history against the Buckeyes. Notre Dame has not defeated Ohio State since 2006, but took the Buckeyes to the wire in a 4-2 loss last season with Ohio State ranked No. 1.
“It’s going to be a great tennis match,” Sachire said. “(Ohio State is) a great rival of ours and they’ve got a good team again this year, and we’ve got a good team. I think the biggest keys for us are going to be maintaining our normal level (of confidence), not getting too high, not getting too low in the big points. When we get opportunities to separate ourselves from our opponent, (we need to) not get too excited about it and then executing our normal stuff. I think if we can stay composed and calm and just play our game, we’re going to have a great chance to win.”
Notre Dame and Ohio State will face off at noon ET on Saturday at the Varsity Tennis Center in Columbus, Ohio. For the latest updates on Irish men’s tennis, follow @NDMensTennis on Twitter and like Notre Dame Men’s Tennis on Facebook.
- The Atlantic Coast Conference has moved to re-implement the regular scoring format utilized in 2014. To this point in the season, matches have been 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.
- In the latest ITA team poll, the Irish dropped a spot to No. 17. Notre Dame has been ranked as high as 14th this season and is 3-1 against ranked opponents. The next two opponents on the Irish schedule, Ohio State and Illinois, are ranked in the top 10, while six of the next eight rank in the top 75.
- In the latest ITA singles poll, junior Quentin Monaghan jumped from No. 37 to No. 29, while sophomore Josh Hagar fell from No. 82 to No. 92. In doubles, Billy Pecor and Alex Lawson jumped to No. 4 from No. 8, and Hagar and Eddy Covalschi fell from No. 9 to No. 17. The Irish join Texas A&M as the only programs with two doubles squads ranked in the ITA top 20.
- Pecor and Lawson make up the only doubles duo from the ACC in the top 10. In addition to Hagar and Covalschi, North Carolina State’s Ian Dempster and Robbie Mudge (No. 18) are the only other ACC doubles pair ranked in the top 20.
- Notre Dame is one of five programs with at least one men’s and women’s doubles tandem ranking in the top 20 nationally. The Irish join USC, Vanderbilt, UCLA and Oklahoma State with representatives on the list. Of those programs, Notre Dame is the only school with three such doubles pairs (women’s No. 14 Quinn Gleason / Monica Robinson; men’s No. 4 Billy Pecor / Alex Lawson, No. 17 Josh Hagar / Eddy Covalschi).
Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant