Cats break luck of the Irish with win (Men’s Tennis)

Tania Ganguli

Jamie Sahara graduated from Northwestern last year having played four years of tennis without beating Notre Dame.

This weekend when NU’s men’s tennis team headed to South Bend, Ind., Sahara had to call his former teammates and refresh their memories.

“He just reminded us that Notre Dame was one of our biggest rivals and that we’d had a tough loss against them last year,” sophomore Chuck Perrin said.

For a while it seemed like the Irish would hand the Wildcats another tough loss, but freshman Adam Schaechterle and sophomore Tommy Hanus each battled through three sets to lead the squad to a 4-3 victory.

“Notre Dame had us beat, but Tommy and Adam refused to quit,” NU coach Paul Torricelli said. “Adam didn’t play like a freshman, he played like a senior.”

NU (7-2, 1-1 Big Ten) showed its resiliency by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to beat Notre Dame (3-6) for the first time in five years.

After losing the doubles point, the Cats broke off to play their singles matches on separate ends of the court.

The two ends were separated, so Schaechterle, Hanus and senior Josh Axler could not see Perrin, senior Jackie Jenkins and junior Ahmed Wahla.

“We got down really early on the doubles point,” Perrin said. “When the singles matches started, I was really nervous because I couldn’t see what was happening on the other three courts, and (the matches I could see) were really tight.”

Axler beat Brent D’Amico in straight sets, giving him time to watch the rest of his teammates, who had barely finished their first sets.

“Josh won so fast, it tied us right up,” Torricelli said. “He dominated. The match wasn’t even close.”

Perrin and Jenkins dropped their matches shortly after Axler’s victory to give the Irish a 3-1 lead.

“I had no idea what was happening on the other side,” Schaechterle said. “Jackie and Chuck lost, but I didn’t know. I could hear Ahmed yelling, and he sounded like he was winning.”

Schaechterle’s instinct was right as Wahla finished off Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo in three sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. That left Hanus and Schaechterle as the last two on the court with the Cats down 3-2.

Hanus was entangled in a match against Luis Haddock that Torricelli called “great tennis.”

“You could just tell that they were playing on a much higher level than any of the other matches,” Torricelli said.

In the next court over, Schaechterle started to get frustrated at missed opportunities. He had started the match ahead 5-2, but lost the next four games.

When his opponent took an injury timeout, Schaechterle took a moment to put things in perspective.

“I looked over at Tommy, and he was fighting so hard and I was just like, ‘I can’t do this, I have to stay focused,'” Schaechterle said. “Pumping Tommy up and him pumping me up made me feel so much more relaxed.”

With the third set tied at five, Hanus started taking more chances.

“I decided to go for some of my returns and play more aggressively like my assistant coach Jay (Udwadia) was telling me to,” Hanus said. “That got to my opponent.”

At about the same time, Schaechterle won a point to tie the score at six. He never looked back.

“All of a sudden, with those two points, the favor seemed to flip in our direction,” Perrin said.