Irish sweep Boston College, Detroit over weekend
Michael Ivey | Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Notre Dame came out on top twice during its homestand this weekend, winning two of the three matches it played at Eck Tennis Pavilion.
The Irish (6-3, 1-0 ACC) defeated conference foe Boston College on Saturday, 7-0, and dropped a nonconference match against No. 17 Illinois on Sunday before blanking Detroit Mercy 7-0 a few hours later.
On Saturday, the Irish won their ACC opener against the Eagles (1-3, 0-1) following singles wins from seniors Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hager, sophomore Grayson Broadus and freshmen Guillermo Cabrera, Matt Gamble and Johnathan Small. The team of sophomore Alex Lebedev and Gamble, as well as the sixth-ranked duo of Covalschi and Hagar, took home victories in doubles competition to secure the sweep.
The Irish turned in a similar performance against the Titans (2-5, 0-0 Horizon) in the second match of their Sunday doubleheader. Junior Brendon Kempin, sophomore Daniel Rayl, freshman Conor Somers, Gamble, Lebedev and Small each earned singles victories for Notre Dame, while the teams of Broadus-Kempin and Hagar-Small took home victories to grab the doubles point as well.
Notre Dame was not able to get the same results in its early match Sunday against the Illini (5-2, 1-0 Big Ten), however. Lebedev earned the only singles point for the Irish in the match with his straight-sets victory. In the doubles matches, however, he and Gamble came away with a 6-1 victory, while Covalschi and Hagar also won their match, 6-1, to secure Notre Dame’s other point in the loss.
Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said he thought his team played well overall during the weekend.
“It wasn’t our level of play necessarily against Illinois that cost us in the end,” Sachire said. “I thought they did a better job of making adjustments late in the matches, and once they got momentum in those matches, they did a good job of not letting it go.
“Moving forward, I think we need to do a better job, when we are in a position where we face adversity, being able to kind of gather ourselves and regroup and make an adjustment ourselves and come right back at our opponents. I don’t think we did a great job of that this weekend, but that’s why you play early season matches, and we’ll learn from it and be better because of it.”
Sachire did note, however, that the team’s performance in its doubles matches was a clear highlight for the Irish between the three matches.
“Clearly our doubles [play] was really high level,” Sachire said. “We won the doubles points in all three matches pretty easily. I also thought we started the singles competition of every team match really quickly. Those are big attributes. You want to get off to good starts, and doubles points are big ones in college tennis. Also, how you start your singles matches is important too, and I thought we did a good job of those two aspects in particular in all three dual matches.”
Sachire particularly singled out Lebedev’s performance over the weekend, calling him the team’s most valuable player across its three matches.
“Alex Lebedev was a beast for us,” Sachire said. “He went 2-0 in doubles and 2-0 in singles and played at a really high level. He played a good player from Illinois in the No. 3 spot, and then he played in the No. 1 spot for us against Detroit and beat two really good tennis players in straight sets. He’s doing a great job and playing really well. He was certainly our MVP this past weekend.”
The Irish will be back in action Sunday when they host Indiana in another nonconference matchup. Sachire said he expects Indiana to play the same way Illinois did.
“That’ll be another close match, similar to the Illinois one,” Sachire said. “I think what we’re going to do is take a day or two to rest and recover and then get back at it in practice. The end of this week is a great opportunity to improve each guy’s individual game. In terms of what we’re going to be working on, [it] is different for each player, but [we] really look at it as a huge development week and use Saturday to prepare for the match against Indiana on Sunday.”
The Irish and Hoosiers (7-2, 0-1 Big Ten) will square off at noon Sunday at Eck Tennis Pavilion.