In yet another nail-bitingly close match, No. 14 Notre Dame topped No. 30 Northwestern, 4-3, on Friday at Eck Tennis Pavilion.
The win featured four individual matches that went to third sets in singles, in addition to four singles sets and one doubles match that were decided by tiebreakers.
Irish senior Billy Pecor, right, connects on a shot during Notre Dame's 4-3 win over Oklahoma State on Jan. 24 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.
“I think it was a great match,” Irish coach Ryan Sachire said. “Northwestern is a top-notch team and we knew going in that it was going to be a very competitive one. We were fully prepared for it to be and it paid off.”
The Irish’s two top-ranked doubles pairs, No. 8 senior Billy Pecor and junior Alex Lawson and No. 9 sophomores Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar delivered, defeating the duo of junior Fedor Baev and sophomore Strong Kirchheimer and the pair of senior Alex Pasareanu and sophomore Sam Shropshire, respectively.
It was the first time this season the two pairings have both won their doubles matches.
In the No. 4 singles round, junior Eric Schnurrenberger dominated junior Mihir Kumar, 6-4, 6-4, but a series of close matches clinched by the Wildcats tied the team score at 2. At the No. 3 singles slot, Covalschi lost to freshman Logan Staggs, while at the No. 6 singles slot, Lawson fell behind after winning the first set on a tiebreaker, eventually losing to sophomore Alp Horoz.
In the No. 5 slot, Pecor continued his undefeated singles streak this season, managing a 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 7-5 victory over junior Fedor Beav. With Pecor’s win, the Irish gained the a one-point lead heading into the No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches. The clinching win came from junior Quentin Monaghan in the No. 1 slot, as he bounced back after losing the second set on a tiebreaker to secure the victory for the Irish.
“All of the guys competed as well as they possibly could considering the intense environment, and we’re all really proud of the effort,” Sachire said. “We’ve done a good job winning the double point. It’s definitely a strength of the team. It’s a big momentum and energy boost not only for the crowd, but also the team, so the value of winning double points extends far beyond the extra point.”
After the Irish had already taken the overall win, No. 82 Hagar lost to the Wildcats’ No. 108 Kircheimer at the No. 2 singles slot.
Many of the recent Irish matches have been decided by razor-thin margins, with all three of their wins coming by a 4-3 score. That, combined with some of their struggles in the singles round, means the team needs to practice performing under pressure in extremely decisive matches, Sachire said.
“We need to get more consistent with [our] level of play in the big moment,” Sachire said. “This season we’ve had plenty of chances to step up and assert ourselves and it hasn’t always worked out. We need to have confidence and trust in our ability to dictate and control play in crucial moments of the match. It’s all about being in the right mindset.”
Moving forward, the Irish will take on Ball State on Sunday at 10 a.m. at Eck Tennis Pavilion.