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Men’s Tennis

Irish see improvement at Chowder Fest

| Tuesday, September 20, 2016

This past weekend, the Irish began the 2016-17 season by participating in the Chowder Fest tournament at Beren Tennis Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The tournament took place over three days, beginning Friday. Along with Notre Dame, Harvard, Texas A&M and Illinois also competed in the tournament.

Among the most notable final results was senior Josh Hagar finishing second in both the singles and doubles (alongside doubles partner sophomore Alex Lebedev) competitions. Freshman Guillermo Cabrera, freshman John Small, freshman Matt Gamble, sophomore Daniel Rayl and junior Brendon Kempin all took home wins in the singles competition.

Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said he was pleased with the performance he saw from his group over the weekend.

“Our guys did a great job,” Sachire said. “When you have 11 players competing and playing six to seven matches each over the weekend, that’s a lot of tennis and a lot of input to evaluate. It’s tough to get one big conclusion as a program or a team, but certainly a lot of individuals did really well. It was a good start to the careers of our freshman who competed really well. I was very pleased with how we began the year. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but this was a good starting spot.”

Irish senior Josh Hagar returns a shot during Notre Dame’s 5-2 victory over Duke on March 18 at Eck Tennis Pavilion. In the match, Hagar lost his singles match to sophomore Catalin Mateas 7-6 (6), 6-3.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer

Irish senior Josh Hagar returns a shot during Notre Dame’s 5-2 victory over Duke on March 18 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Among the things Sachire said he was impressed with was the fitness level of his players and their preparation in the offseason.

“I thought we were as fit as or fitter than any team that was there,” Sachire said. “I also thought we did a good job with the way we competed throughout the weekend in terms of trusting what we do as competitors and tennis players and not wandering too far away from our game in the big moments, which is one of our keys to winning. I thought those two things were really good signs this weekend. There’s a lot of work to do to improve, but it was a good foundation to build on.”

Sachire said one of the things he saw in his players that needs improvement is the ability to sustain concentration and intensity throughout the course of a match. Sachire did say it is common for a group to be performing under peak form at the beginning of the season.

“Tennis is about finding that rhythm that you succeed in and finding the style of play to play in that helps you be successful and being able to continuously execute that style in the biggest moments of the match,” Sachire said. “That’s what it means to execute and perform your best under pressure and what ultimately separates winners from losers in our sport. We need to continue to do a better job at that.”

Sachire pointed to Hagar’s performance as one that stood out to him this weekend and also said he was pleased with how the freshmen performed.

“I think [Hager] did a really good job this weekend,” Sachire said. “He was essentially playing number one for us this weekend against the number one players from Harvard, Illinois and Texas A&M that were here for this tournament. He ended up going 2-1 and was a couple of points away from going undefeated. But more important than that, his results show his level of play was good. The freshmen also got off to a good start and won the vast majority of the matches they competed in, which is always a positive way to start your career.”

The next time the Irish are back in action as a team, they will host the Bobby Bayliss Invitational at Eck Tennis Pavilion on the weekend of Oct. 7–9. Sachire said his team will get back to work after a couple of days off.

“Again, it’s hard to draw big conclusions as a team from tournaments like this, but we’ll be specific with each guy and start to address the issues that popped up and areas of improvement that they can make between now and when we compete again,” Sachire said.

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