Irish earn bye in tourney, to face Clemson
Observer Staff Report | Thursday, April 24, 2014
No. 13 Notre Dame will make its ACC Tournament debut Friday at noon against No. 16 Clemson at Cary Tennis Park, in Cary, N.C. The Irish (18-8, 7-4 ACC) have won five out of their last six matches heading into the tournament.Five of the twelve teams in the conference are currently ranked in the top 20 nationally. Joining Notre Dame in the top 20 are conference foes No. 4 Virginia, No. 9 North Carolina, No. 11 Duke and Clemson (20-7, 6-5).
As the fourth seed, the Irish qualified for a bye in the first round, which was held Thursday night. Notre Dame earned the fourth and final bye, while No. 1 seeded Virginia, No. 2 Duke and No. 3 North Carolina qualified for the first three byes.
Notre Dame will face No. 5-seeded Clemson in the quarterfinals. The Tigers finished only one game behind the Irish in the conference standings. Notre Dame won the only meeting between the two schools, 5-2, in a match held March 21 in Clemson, S.C.
At that time, the Irish were ranked 11th nationally, while the Tigers were 20th. The Irish win came on the heels of Notre Dame’s only 7-0 loss on the season, to USC on March 14.
Clemson took the doubles point, but the Irish countered with five wins in singles play, including a back-and-forth match between Irish senior Ryan Bandy and Clemson junior Alejandro Augusto, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 1-0 (10-8).
Notre Dame ended the season on a roll, winning four matches in a row, including a 7-0 sweep of Boston College on April 19 to end the regular season. With the win, the Irish finished 7-4 in ACC play during the spring campaign.
After this weekend, the Irish will have two weeks to prepare for the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament, held from May 9-11. The first two rounds are held on the campus of the higher seed, while the final rounds of the championships run from May 15-26 in Athens, Ga.
For now, the Irish will play Clemson in the quarterfinal round of the ACC championships on Friday. If they advance, they play Saturday against the winner of Virginia-Florida State, with the conference championship on Sunday in Cary, N.C.