The Notre Dame boys' tennis team wasn't as strong as Middle Tennessee Christian School at the top of the lineup Wednesday night.
But the Fighting Irish were much deeper — and much better at the bottom.
The Irish received wins from the third through fifth slots in singles, and they added a win at No. 2 doubles for a 4-2 victory over the Cougars to advance to the Division II-A state quarterfinals. The East Region third-seeded Irish (14-3) will travel to face St. George's, the top seed from the West Region, for a chance to advance to next week's state tournament.
With a win against St. George's, the Irish would return to the state semifinals after missing last year.
On Wednesday, the Irish benefited from straight-sets wins from Matthew Leutz, Kurt Wittler and Jack Mahn to build a 3-2 lead after singles play. Leutz and Wittler clinched the team win with an 8-2 triumph in doubles, taking the match's final seven games after falling behind 1-2.
"I thought those guys played well in that match," Notre Dame coach Raul Fernandez said. "They knew they had to win it; they got down 1-2 and they could have crumbled, but they composed themselves and got right back in it."
Those wins were important Wednesday, because MTCS's No. 1 and No. 2 players — Will Reeves and Cayden Tucker, already state qualifiers in doubles — had wins over the Irish's Will Ingell and Bernard Lisy, although the latter match went three sets, with Tucker finally taking a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 win.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.