Irish fall to Virginia for second time of season
Renee Griffin | Monday, March 3, 2014
No. 6 Notre Dame fell to No. 10 Virginia on the road Sunday by a score of 6-1. It was Notre Dame’s second loss to the Cavaliers but only its fourth loss on the season overall.
The Irish began the weekend with a 4-3 victory over Virginia Tech at home Friday.Irish coach Ryan Sachire said he was not satisfied with the performance against the Cavaliers (9-1, 2-0 ACC) but also emphasized the competency of Virginia as an opponent.
“Number one, give Virginia a lot of credit,” Sachire said. “They’re obviously a great team, defending national champs, and they played like it. Our team went after it and came up a little bit short, unfortunately, but Virginia played really well. What we lacked was competitiveness. To beat a great team, you can’t give away points like we did.”
The Irish (11-4, 1-2 ) started off on the wrong foot against the Cavaliers, losing the doubles point. Virginia senior Alex Domijan and sophomore Harrison Richmond defeated Notre Dame senior Ryan Bandy and sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger. The Cavaliers then clinched the point when the No. 11-ranked Irish pair of senior Greg Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson lost to freshman Luca Corinteli and sophomore Mac Styslinger of Virginia.
Surrendering the doubles point was a critical turning point, Sachire said. It was also the main change from the first time Notre Dame and Virginia met.
“This time we came out on the short side of the doubles match, which is going to happen [against competitive teams],” Sachire said. “If you look at the singles matches, we were every bit as competitive as we were last time, but when you go into it one point down from doubles, it really changes the mindset and makes it a lot harder.”
The day was not entirely unsuccessful for the Irish, however. Sachire cited Bandy’s two-set victory in singles over Virginia senior Justin Shane and the performances of freshmen Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi as bright spots. Hagar bested Styslinger, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, while Covalschi fell to freshman Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
“Bandy beat another senior yesterday, and I think when both were coming out of high school, the level of prospect of [Shane] versus where Ryan was wasn’t in the same stratosphere,” Sachire said. “Ryan’s ability to beat that Virginia guy is a tribute to how hard Ryan has worked and really developed as a player.
“Also, our two freshmen were battling in there with great players. If they’re able to keep building on that, then they’ll be in for great careers here at Notre Dame.”
Though falling to Virginia harms the team’s record, Sachire suggested that it may actually improve the team’s mindset and ability to bounce back in the long run.
“That’s why you play the best competition you can play, to expose yourself to the best and try to be the best,” Sachire said. “We can feel sorry for ourselves that we lost, or we can use it to improve and get better as a team.”
The team now has a long break until its next match at USC. Sachire said it will make use of the time off to work on its deficiencies, as well as get acclimated to the outdoor tennis that will arrive with warmer weather.
“We’ve got to get back to the fundamentals, get back to playing the way that we play when we’re at our best,” Sachire said. “I think ultimately the break be great for our team. We’re handling the pressure well, so if we’re able to improve on some of the little things we’ll be in great shape. We’re going to have a very, very strict focus on player development these next couple of days and really give these guys more weapons to use on the courts.”
The Irish will travel to California on Saturday to train outdoors over spring break before facing USC in Los Angeles on March 14.
Contact Renee Griffin at email@example.com