Irish fall outdoors to Trojans
Greg Hadley | Monday, March 17, 2014
Going up against one of the most dominant programs of the last decade, No. 8 Notre Dame was swept away by No. 4 USC on Friday in Los Angeles, losing 7-0 and dropping every point for the first time this season.
“USC is a great team,” Irish coach Ryan Sachire said. “They’ve won four of the last five national championships, and they’ve been a consistent presence in the top five for the last decade or so. So we knew going in that it would be a tough match for us to win. But at the same time, we did not perform at the level that we’ve played at in other matches this year.”The Trojans (15-2) feature five ranked singles players, including two in the country’s top 15, and rolled past the Irish (11-5, 1-2 ACC), not losing a set in singles play. Sachire said some of his squad’s poor play could be blamed on the outdoor playing surface.
“Part of [the problem] was due to that we were playing our first outdoor match of the year,” Sachire said. “The style of tennis that wins outdoors compared to the style that wins indoors is a little bit different. It’s a little slower, you have to be more patient and make better decisions. … From my experience, the first match outdoors is always a little bit difficult because you’re adjusting to that particular style of play.”
In doubles, the eighth-ranked Trojan duo of senior Ray Sarmiento and junior Yannick Hanfmann downed sophomore Alex Lawson and senior Greg Andrews, who entered the match ranked 18th in the nation, 8-5. Sarmiento, the No. 3 singles player in the country, defeated Andrews in singles play as well, 7-5, 6-3.
“USC did a great job of making us earn everything that we got,” Sachire said. “In certain circumstances, we tried to be a little too offensive. We tried to pull the trigger too early and go for winners when they weren’t there. … I think we needed this, and it was a great learning experience for us.”
With the loss, the Irish have dropped two straight matches against top-10 competition and have yet to record a victory in March. Sachire said some of the team’s struggles have come from the middle of the lineup.
“The middle has been so successful all season long, in particular [freshman] Eddy Covalschi and [senior] Ryan Bandy,” he said. “But they both lost fairly lopsided matches. It wasn’t because they were doing anything egregiously wrong. It just came down to shot selection and point construction.
“Greg Andrews and [sophomore] Quentin Monaghan did a good job of adjusting to the conditions, but Eddy and Ryan were still playing indoor tennis. So we’ve talked about it and done some drills in practice. They’re going to learn from it.”
Despite the loss, Sachire said he hoped that the Irish would play the Trojans again this season.
“We got beat by a team that was better than us on that particular day,” he said. “We’re making a very concerted effort to not buy into that notion if we play them again, we can’t win. We can beat them, and we just need to work and play better.”
The Irish take the court and look to rebound on the road Friday against Clemson at 2:30 p.m. in Clemson, S.C.