NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Western Illinois opened the 2013 spring season with a loss at #30 Notre Dame at the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Saturday evening.
The Fighting Irish, who boast four nationally-ranked singles players, won 7-0 to improve to 2-0 after beating Marquette earlier in the day, while the Leathernecks fall to 0-1.
"We didn't do anything wrong against Notre Dame. In fact we played quite well," head coach Chris Kane said. "However, when you take on a team where four of its six starters are nationally-ranked, and as a team they've make the NCAA Championships something like 22 out of the last 23 years, you have your work cut out for you."
Sophomore Mitch Granger, the No. 17-ranked singles player in the central, came the closest to pulling out a victory at No. 5 singles, falling 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).
"Mitch Granger was his usual tenacious self, just missing to win the
second set and take the match into a deciding final set. Mitch played
better and better as the match progressed," Kane added.
Granger and sophomore Brandon Meeker also had a lead at No. 3 doubles, before falling 8-4, while the team of freshmen Christoph Haertel and Bradley Holt was trailing 7-4 at No. 2 when doubles play finished.
"I also think our #2 doubles team of Brad Holt and Christoph Haertel is a winner for the future. They played great tennis against ND. Many points were each team hitting five great shots, and then us blowing a relatively easy eleventh shot," Kane continued. "That's the difference between a great team and a very good one. The great teams give absolutely nothing away. Brad, Christoph, and the two ND players really had the crowd oohing and awwing."
Holt and Haertel also put up strong battles in singles play, as Holt fell 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3 singles and Haertel fell 6-1, 6-2 to Greg Andrews, the 80th-ranked singles player in Division I.
"I received many compliments on how well our Leathernecks played. If you were in the stands you would have been impressed with both teams. However, Notre Dame's ability to be a little more consistent, hit winners when they had the opportunity, and be aggressive was evident. They won, but we put up a good showing," Kane concluded.