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Men’s Tennis

Irish jump out to undefeated start of spring season

| Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Notre Dame started the 2018 regular season this weekend hosting three matches in the span of three days.

On Friday night, the Irish defeated Michigan State 6-1. On Sunday, Notre Dame defeated Kentucky 4-3 in the afternoon and then downed Cleveland State 5-2 later in the day. All three matches took place at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Michelle Mehelas | The Observer

Irish junior captain Alex Lebedev serves the ball during Notre Dame’s 4-3 win over Kentucky on Sunday at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Against Michigan State, Notre Dame saw singles wins in five of its six matches, including wins from junior Alex Lebedev, junior Grayson Broadus, sophomore Guillermo Cabrera, freshman Richard Ciamarra and freshman Tristan McCormick. The doubles teams of freshman William Howells and Lebedev and sophomore Matt Gamble and Ciamarra recorded wins in the doubles competition.

Against Kentucky, singles wins from Broadus, Ciamarra and Lebedev along with doubles victories from Howells/Lebedev and Ciamarra/Gamble gave Notre Dame the match victory.

Against Cleveland State, freshmen Paul Gota and junior Nathan Griffin chipped in singles and doubles victories to help the Irish complete the weekend sweep.

Irish head coach Ryan Sachire was thrilled with the results his team was able to attain.

“It was a really good opening weekend for us,” Sachire said. “We played three good teams. Michigan State is obviously a Big Ten team and a Power-5 school and so to get the first win of the season over a team like that was great. Then on Sunday, Kentucky is a national power and a consistent top-20 level program year-in and year-out and to beat them was a great win for our team. Then on Sunday night, Cleveland State maybe not quite on the level of Kentucky but they are still a really good mid-major and I think they are going to win their conference this year and go to the NCAA tournament, and to beat them was also a great win. So, we couldn’t have asked for much better than what we started with this year and we’re excited to build from here.”

Sachire also said he liked his team’s doubles play in the matches.

“I think the first thing is that we played strong doubles matches in all three matches,” Sachire said. “Winning the doubles points all three times was very significant, so I think that is something that we can continue to move on going forward. Also the play of the bottom of our lineup. Grayson Broadus, Richard Ciamarra, those guys did a great job against Michigan State and Kentucky, and Richard played against Cleveland State as well. Those two guys in particular and then the last person I want to highlight is Alex Lebedev. He played No. 1 and winning the matches that he did. It’s a great feeling knowing you have one of the best players in the country at the top of your lineup and that you’re going to be able to be competitive in every single duel match that you play in the No. 1 singles.”

The Irish will be back in action this weekend when they participate in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Austin, Texas. Notre Dame will play Texas on Friday.

Sachire said a main focus for this upcoming weekend’s matches will be transitioning from an indoor to an outdoor setting. Sachire says his team will travel down to Texas early to help them with this transition.

“Our next event is this weekend,” Sachire said. “We’re playing down in Texas at the University of Texas, so we’re going to be outside down there. I think adjusting from indoor tennis to outdoor tennis, there’s a pretty big difference in the flow of the game and how the points are structured and all of that. So that is going to be a big challenge for us this week. Getting ready to play a really good Texas team on Saturday outside will be the main focus for us. Transitioning from indoor to outdoor tennis and playing with a little more patience, maybe not going for quite as many winners early in points, those are some of the tendencies you have when you move back outside.

“We’re taking Monday and Tuesday off from practice to get fully healthy and rested back up. Then on Wednesday we’ll do some drills here at Notre Dame that are conducive to outdoor play like some more patience building drills. Then we’ll travel down to Texas Wednesday night and we’ll practice Thursday and Friday down in Austin in the outdoors. So we’ll be able to make the transition fine, but there’s no substitute for playing outside, so that’s why we’ll travel down there early and get two full days of practice before we compete.”

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