Notre Dame closes fall season with Gopher Invitational, National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship
Michael Ivey | Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Notre Dame competed in both the National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship in Flushing, New York, and the Gopher Invitational in Minneapolis to close out its fall season.
At the National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship, the doubles pair of seniors Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi lost their first tournament match, but they were able to emerge victorious in their final two in order to win the First-Round doubles consolation bracket.
On Friday at the Gopher Invitational, the Irish saw singles wins by freshmen Guillermo Cabrera, Johnathan Small and Matt Gamble and doubles wins by the duo of junior Brendon Kempin and sophomore Daniel Rayl as well as the pair of Small and Cabrera.
On Saturday, Irish tennis players won a total of 11 singles matches. Sophomore Grayson Broadus, sophomore Nathan Griffin, Gamble and Kempin each won two matches, while sophomore Alex Lebedev, Small and Rayl rounded out the final three wins. In doubles, the pairs of Kempin and Rayl, Gamble and Lebedev and Broadus and Griffin each came away with victories.
Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said he believes his team played well in the big picture.
“Certainly, there were a lot of positives and every one of our guys had significant moments where they did a lot of great things and showed the ability to perform really well,” Sachire said. “But with the same token, everyone showed some flaws and some things they have to work on over the next couple of months before we begin our dual-match season in January.”
Sachire said he likes how his team performed against the level of competition they faced but added that his team needs to work on closing out matches.
“I thought we did a really good job of putting ourselves in a position to beat a lot of good players,” Sachire said. “The tournament in Minnesota was chalk full of lineup players — players that will play for teams in the NCAA tournament — so it was a really good gauge of competition, and I thought we did a really good job of getting ourselves to the point in matches where we were on the doorstep of winning. The downside was we didn’t close out matches the way we need to during the spring, so we had a lot of situations where guys were in a position to control the match and they couldn’t close them out. So that’s the good and the bad right there. We were in a position to win a lot of matches, and we didn’t finish the way we are capable of.”
Sachire said one thing they will work to improve upon is how his players serve the ball at the beginning of a set.
“I think the aspects of what we need in those pressure-packed moments where you are trying to close out a match, and it starts with the serve when you are serving for a match,” Sachire said. “I felt like that was an area where we did not do a great job. We did not serve well as a team this past weekend, so I think up and down the line is the most important shot in tennis and is something we have to improve upon from now to January.”
When asked who stood out to him over the weekend, Sachire mentioned Rayl, Kempin and Gamble in particular.
“I think you have to start with Daniel Rayl, a sophomore on our team,” Sachire said. “He had a great tournament. I think he lost his first singles match then won his next three, and him and Brendan Kempin went 3-1 in doubles as well. I think they both did a really good job. Danny especially did a really good job in singles. Another person who had a good weekend was Matt Gamble. Matt went undefeated in singles and beat a couple of high level players, which was great to see. I think those young guys stood out in terms of probably having the best tournaments that they’ve had to date at this point in the fall.”
Notre Dame now enters a two-month vacation from matches. Their next match will be Jan. 20 against Ball State to begin the spring season. Sachire said he will continue to monitor his players as they begin to work on their game individually.
“We’re still going to be able to train and work with our guys on a much more limited basis than we were previously, and they’ll have to do a lot more practicing on their own,” Sachire said. “A lot of our success early in the year is going to be determined by the work our guys put in on their own over the next couple of months. Fortunately, our team has a great culture and our guys do work hard on their own, and that’s going to be necessary for us to start the way we want to start in January.”