Hagar and Covalschi head to New York for national tournament
Daniel O'Boyle | Thursday, November 3, 2016
In the final weekend of its fall schedule, Notre Dame will send the doubles pairing of seniors Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi to college tennis’s fourth Grand Slam of the year, the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships in New York, while the rest of the team will travel to Minnesota for the Gopher Invitational.
Hagar and Covalschi qualified for an at-large pick at The National Indoor Championships after an 8-2 record so far this season. This is the third Grand Slam event of the duo’s careers, appearing as a pairing at the same event in 2014 and at the ITA All-American Doubles championship, making the quarterfinals of both events. Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said the pair’s Grand Slam experience should help them succeed in the tournament.
“I think it prepares them well — they know what to expect,” Sachire said. “They also competed this year down in Tulsa at the ITA All-American championships and it’s the same type of competition. I think the more that you’re familiar with the [competitions] and the more experience you have competing at those types of events, the more comfortable you feel when you get there — you know what to expect and you know what the level of play’s like. And the fact that they’ve been successful at two Grand Slam events is also a confidence boost. They should feel prepared and confident that if they play well, they’ll do well, but it won’t be easy.”
Although he had confidence in Hagar and Covalschi’s chances, Sachire said the level of competition at Grand Slam events is extremely high and leaves almost no margin for error.
“Any time you play an event like that, you have the best players in the country, or in this case, the best doubles teams in the country,” Sachire said. “And it’s only a field of 20 teams total — you’re really just looking at the top 20 teams in the country. And when you get to that level, anybody can beat anybody — everyone’s good. So clearly Josh and Eddy have had a good fall up to this point. They also have a track record of being good at the high national level; they’ve been a doubles pair on-and-off for three years now. I totally expect them to have a great chance to do well; they’ve been practicing well and playing well, but when you get to that level, the margins are very thin and the competition is very strong. They’re going to have to play their best to do well.”
The remainder of the Irish squad will take part in the Gopher Invitational, an individual 64-player tournament hosted by the University of Minnesota and featuring a field including players from schools across the country, including Michigan, Dartmouth, New Mexico, Drake and Wichita State. Sachire said the tournament is a good event to end this year’s fall schedule on.
“It’ll be good competition for all of our guys, and a good opportunity to conclude our fall schedule with a really good event,” Sachire said.
Sachire added that sophomore Alex Lebedev could continue to build on his already successful season.
“Clearly Alex Lebedev, who’s a sophomore who medically redshirted last year because of an injury … had a really good fall up to this point,” Sachire said. “He advanced to the quarterfinals of our regional tournament a couple of weeks ago. He’s playing really well and he’s been practicing great since that event. So I’d expect him to continue on that path and play well. But you never know until game day comes how guys are going to play.”
Both the National Indoor Championships and the Gopher Invitational begin on Friday morning and will finish on Sunday.