Notre Dame set for matchup with Georgia Tech
After finishing off its regular season Saturday, the Irish will head to Cary, North Carolina, for the ACC championships, which will be held from Thursday through Sunday at Cary Tennis Center. As the No. 7 seed, Notre Dame (14-10, 6-6 ACC) is set to face Georgia Tech, which earned the 10 seed after posting a 4-8 record in ACC regular season play.
The Irish split their final two matches of the regular season last weekend. Notre Dame fell to No. 11 Wake Forest, 4-3, on Friday and then defeated North Carolina State, 4-3, in the season finale Saturday.
“We’re feeling really confident,” junior Alex Lawson said. “We had a solid win last weekend, and we’re definitely building momentum, and I think everyone’s pretty excited for the opportunity we have to make a run in this tournament.
“This is the toughest conference in the country, and every team in the tournament is really good, so you can’t overlook any matches, and we can’t take anyone lightly. Anything can happen this weekend, so we’ll need be at our best.”
The Yellow Jackets (12-11, 4-8) finished their regular season last Sunday with a 4-3 win over No. 9 Duke. The win snapped a five-match losing streak and was their first victory in April.
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech met once previously this season, a March 22 contest at Eck Tennis Pavilion. The match was the first of a Sunday doubleheader for the Irish, and Notre Dame prevailed with a 6-1 victory. Despite the win, the Irish are not taking the Yellow Jackets lightly, Lawson said.
“They had a huge win over Duke, a top-10 team, this past weekend, so we know they’re playing some really good tennis right now,” Lawson said.
The winner of the match Thursday morning will play Virginia Tech, the second-overall seed, Friday morning. The Hokies (19-3, 10-2 ACC) beat both Notre Dame and Georgia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, earlier this season.
The story of Notre Dame’s year has been its success in the doubles game; the Irish won the doubles point in eight of their 12 ACC matches.
“It’s huge to get the match started off on a good note when we get on top with that doubles point quickly,” Lawson said. “That’s a big point of confidence for our team, and usually if you get off to a good start and get that doubles point, everyone’s flowing. They’re feeling good, and we get rolling in singles then too. So that’ll be a big focus for us too.”
The duo of Lawson and senior Billy Pecor has paced the Irish at the top of the doubles lineup for most of the year. The pair, ranked 12th nationally, went 6-1 in ACC play, and Lawson said the two have been able to find success in part because of their similar personalities.
“We have great chemistry, just as a doubles team,” Lawson said. “We feed off each other emotionally really well, and our games match up really well. … The main thing is just emotionally, we’re both pretty passionate and loud and energetic on the court, and I think we feed off each other really well in that regard.”
In its first time participating in the ACC championships last year, Notre Dame was a four seed and defeated fifth-seeded Clemson after receiving a first-round bye. The Irish then lost to eventual champion Virginia, 4-0, in the semifinals.
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech are set to square off at Cary Tennis Center at 9 a.m. Thursday. The winner of the match will play the second-seeded Hokies at the same time Friday morning.