Top-ranked Buckeyes shut out Notre Dame
Michael Ivey | Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Notre Dame dropped a 7-0 decision to No. 1 Ohio State on Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
In the singles competition, sophomore Alex Lebedev won the first set of his match 6-3 before dropping the next two sets 7-5 and 10-6. Likewise, sophomore Grayson Broadus won his first match 6-4 before coming up short in the final two sets 6-2, 10-8. Freshman Guillermo Cabrera won his first set, too, before losing the last two 6-2 and 10-6. Seniors Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar each lost in straight sets, Hagar to Buckeye junior Mikael Torpegaard — ranked best in the country at singles — and Covalschi to junior Hugo Di Feo, ranked No. 3 nationally. Notre Dame freshman Matt Gamble lost his match in straight sets as well.
In the doubles competition, the pair of junior Brendon Kempin and Broadus dropped their match 6-1, while the pair of Covalschi and Hagar — ranked No. 6 nationally — was upset 6-2 in their match against Ohio State’s top pair, which was ranked No. 20. The third doubles match went unfinished.
Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said his team knew what they were going up against Friday and came away with some positives from their performance.
“Ohio State is a great team,” Sachire said. “They’re ranked No. 1 in the country and playing them at their place is a great challenge. Their men’s tennis team holds the NCAA record for any sport in Division I for consecutive home wins. We knew it was going to be a great challenge going down there because they’re a really good team.
“I think some of the positives were that we won half of the first sets in the six singles matches. Our guys at No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6 were in really good position about three-quarters of the way through their matches to win those matches. They did end up losing them, but like I said, every spot in Ohio State’s lineup is very good and for our guys to be in the spot where they won first sets and put themselves in a position to win those matches was a positive. It was a much more competitive match than the final score indicated. We did a lot of good things on those courts to put ourselves in a position to win those matches.”
Sachire said one thing his team needs to work on is sustaining play throughout their matches.
“When you play such a quality opponent, it exposes some of your imperfections. Even if they’re not your flaws, they’re your imperfections,” Sachire said. “I think what we saw was at certain spots we didn’t start matches the way that we needed to start them in terms of our confidence level and our aggression and how we went about doing our business. In other spots we started well but couldn’t sustain what we needed to sustain to win those matches. … Seeing what level it takes to beat teams like that in that environment, it takes a near perfect effort from a competitive standpoint in terms of how we start and how we play the entire match. I think we’re going to really have to emphasize that mentality of starting fast in our practices and them obviously sustaining that throughout the entire time and I expect us to do a better job of doing that against Louisville on Saturday.”
When asked whose performance stood out to him, Sachire singled out the play of Broadus, Lebedev and Cabrera.
“Grayson Broadus did a good job in both doubles and singles,” Sachire said. “… Alex Lebedev played No. 3 singles for us and played a good match he probably should have won. Guillermo Cabrera, another freshman who played No. 6, played a really good player and ended up losing but was in a position to win that match. I think those three guys in general, but to pick one, I think Grayson had the best performance on Friday.”
Notre Dame will be back in action Saturday in a road match against conference foe Louisville.
Sachire said his team will continue to work on their identity during practice this week.
“I think it was good to come out of there on Friday night with a renewed sense of who we want to be as a team competitively, what we want other teams to feel when they play us, and we’re going to continue to work on that identity during practice and be better at it against Louisville on Saturday,” Sachire said.