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Men’s Tennis

Notre Dame takes down Virginia Tech on the road

| Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Notre Dame defeated Virginia Tech 4-3 in a conference road match Friday at Burrows-Burrleson Tennis Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.

In the singles competition, senior Eddy Covalschi emerged victorious in straight sets 6-1, 7-6 for the Irish (10-6, 2-2 ACC), while senior Josh Hagar also won his match in straight sets 6-0, 6-2. Freshman Matt Gamble won the first set of his match 6-4 before losing the second set 6-4. Gamble bounced back and won the third and deciding set 7-5. Sophomore Grayson Broadus and freshman Guillermo Cabrera came out on the wrong end of their matches by scores of 6-2, 6-4 and 6-2, 6-3, respectively. Sophomore Alex Lebedev won the first set of his match 6-3 before dropping his final two sets 6-4, 6-4.

In the doubles competition, the No. 3 pair of junior Brendon Kempin and Broadus took home a 6-3 win, while the No. 2 pair of Gamble and Lebedev also emerged victorious by a 6-3 decision.

Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said the victory over the Hokies (7-9, 2-4) was an important one for his team.

“We told the guys after the match that any road win in the ACC is a good win,” Sachire said. “Virginia Tech is a good team, as are all teams in the league, and beating them at their place is not an easy chore. So from a results perspective, we’re obviously happy to get a win. I felt like we could have played better in certain spots, but we’re a young team. We’re learning and growing and we’ll be better the next time we’re in that kind of situation on the road again. I think we’ll play a better match, but certainly with the way our guys competed and fought, we found a way to win.”

Sachire said the play of Hagar and Covalschi stood out to him over the weekend.

“Strictly looking at a singles perspective, you have to take our two seniors Josh and Eddy, playing at No. 1 and 2,” Sachire said. “Both of their performances were really strong and I’m really proud of them, and that is what you expect. You expect your senior captains to be the most prepared to play well in that situation and that environment, and they did. They really led us on the court and obviously Matt Gamble, the heart he showed and the fight he showed, he was up in the third set of his match, gave up the lead and it was pretty tenuous there for a few minutes but ultimately he had the courage to pull it out. I’m really proud of him as well.

“I think something that has gone a little bit under the radar this year that I think is good to acknowledge is the consistent play of Brendon Kempin in doubles. He’s only a doubles starter for us this year, but he’s done a heck of a job. He’s probably been our most consistent player for his position in our whole doubles lineup, and that’s what you want from a guy who is a doubles only starter. That’s his craft and he takes a lot of pride in it, and he’s really good at that every day. He’s done a great job and he was great for us again on Friday.”

Sachire said his players will take time during practice this week to work on their individual games.

“We just need to be a little bit cleaner in our execution of basic things,” Sachire said. “The way I see the game is that I think each guy has their two or three things where, when he’s doing them well, everything else falls into place and I felt we fell a little bit out of that rhythm during the last week or so. I think we’ll go back to the fundamentals that each guy needs and it’s a little different for each player. As we talked about during the beginning of the semester, the serve and return of serve are the two most important shots in all of tennis, and we’ll spend a little time practicing that this week. Then I think we’re going to pay attention to the strengths of each guy or the confidence points of each guy’s game and we’ll get a good week of practice and hopefully we’ll feel really good going into Friday.

Notre Dame will be back in action Friday as they take on North Carolina State in an ACC home match beginning at 3:30 p.m. at Courtney Tennis Center.

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