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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame falters in pair of ACC matches

Over the weekend, Notre Dame headed south to take on Virginia and Georgia Tech in two conference road matches, dropping both contests.

On Friday, the Irish (10-10, 4-4 ACC) fell 6-1 to No. 3 Virginia (16-2, 6-0). The Irish struggled early against a talented and highly-ranked Virginia team as the duo of seniors Quentin Monaghan and Alex Lawson fell to Virginia’s pairing of junior Luca Corinteli and senior Ryan Shane, 6-2, while Notre Dame junior Eddy Covalschi and senior Kenneth Sabacinski lost to Cavaliers sophomore Collin Altamirano and junior J.C. Aragone. From there, Virginia quickly clinched as Altamirano beat Covalschi 6-4, 6-2, Cavaliers junior Thai-Son Kwiatkowski defeated junior Josh Hagar 6-3, 6-4, and Aragone beat Lawson 7-6, 6-4.

Having already clinched, Virginia did not ease up, as sophomore Henrik Wiersholm defeated freshman Grayson Broadus 6-4, 6-3 and senior Mac Styslinger beat Sabacinski 6-4, 6-4. Virginia earned the first six points of the match, but Monaghan kept the Cavaliers from shutting out the Irish, upsetting No. 8-ranked Shane in three sets.

Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said Monaghan’s victory was a testament to the talent and work ethic of one of the top players to come through the Irish program.

“Quentin has been one of the best players in the history of the program to be honest,” Sachire said. “Shane won the NCAA title last year in singles, and actually beat Quentin in the semis, so it was a battle of two of the heavyweights in our sport, and his win is a testament to him and how hard he’s worked.”

Despite the scoreboard, Irish coach Ryan Sachire said he was pleased with the performance for the most part.

“Our level of tennis was pretty good overall,” Sachire said. “We have to try to be a little more successful in big points. We didn’t get off to a great start, and obviously when you’re playing a great team, you need to get off to a great start. Overall, the way we played was good, but they were just better in crunch time.”

Then Sunday, the Irish travelled to Atlanta where they fell to Georgia Tech (12-5, 5-2), 5-2. The Irish lost the doubles point to start the match as Lawson and Monaghan fell to Georgia Tech brothers redshirt senior Casey Kay and sophomore Michael Kay 6-2 and Sabacinski and Covalschi lost to senior Nathan Rakitt and freshman Andrew Li 6-2 on court No. 3.

The next point for the Yellow Jackets came as sophomore No. 11 Christopher Eubanks dispatched Monaghan 6-1, 6-2 on the top singles court. The Irish then claimed a point as Hagar defeated junior Cole Fiegel 6-1, 6-2. However, Georgia Tech responded by winning three straight matches to clinch the victory. Rakitt defeated Sabacinski 6-2, 6-4, Li beat Broadus 6-4, 7-6(7), and junior Carlos Benito was victorious over Covalschi in a three-setter, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. The Irish ended the day on a positive note as Lawson defeated sophomore Daniel Yun in a third-set tiebreak 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(2). Sachire said it was a hard-fought match where the Irish missed a few key opportunities.

“It was another really close match that we were in position to win,” said Sachire. "Every match in the ACC is really highly competitive, and that’s what it was on Sunday. I think they did a better job in key moments, and we played with a little too much stress."

The Irish continue ACC play at home this upcoming weekend, taking on No. 22 Florida State on Friday and Virginia Tech on Sunday. Sachire said, like all conference matchups, this weekends’ will be tough.

“They’re going to be two more great matchups,” said Sachire. “Both times we played Virginia Tech last year were 4-3 matches, and we’re anticipating more close contests. We just need to relax and play and not get too far ahead of ourselves, and if we can do that we’re going to be in really good shape. Both Florida State and Virginia Tech will come down to who can win the important points.”