Notre Dame tops ranked Northwestern at home
Michael Ivey | Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Notre Dame came out on top of a 4-1 decision against No. 16 Northwestern on Friday in a nonconference matchup at Eck Tennis Pavilion.
In the singles competition, the Irish (8-3, 1-0 ACC) were powered by singles wins in straight sets from freshmen Guillermo Cabrera and Matt Gamble. Senior Josh Hagar lost his first set 6-3 before rallying to win the final two sets of his match, 6-4 and 6-3. Although sophomore Alex Lebedev lost his match in straight sets, sophomore Grayson Broadus and senior Eddy Covalschi saw their matches discontinued after the Irish had secured the victory with its fourth and deciding point.
In the doubles competition, the No. 1 doubles team of Covalschi and Hagar won their match 6-3, and the No. 3 team of Gamble and Lebedev came out on top of their match, 6-2. The No. 2 team of junior Brendon Kempin and Broadus dropped their match by a score of 6-1, however.
Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said he considered the win over the Wildcats (11-5, 0-0 Big Ten) to be his team’s best win of the season so far.
“I think, just in general, anytime you beat a team ranked in the top 15 in the country, it’s a significant win for our team,” Sachire said. “For this group, this is certainly our best win of the season to this point. I think it’s a huge confidence booster for our guys moving forward. We have a lot of young guys who are experiencing this for the first time, and for them to be successful and get a great result against a very high quality team is awesome and something they can build on for the rest of this season and the rest of their careers.”
Sachire called the match a “team win” and praised his two seniors for leading the effort.
“In particular, I think it’s important to highlight our seniors, Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi,” Sachire said. “Both of them did a tremendous job on Friday night. Together, they clinched the No. 1 doubles point, and Josh came back and won his match in singles to clinch the team win. Eddy was a huge part of the singles win, too, even though his match didn’t finish. He was playing an elite opponent and was winning when Josh won his match. That helps take the pressure off of Josh, too, knowing that he had someone there that was fully capable of winning if he didn’t himself.
“The two of them did a great job of leading the team, and we’re certainly proud of their efforts, and it’s something the team can build on going forward.”
The Irish will be back in action Friday night at 6 p.m. when they travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take on No. 1 Ohio State at Varsity Tennis Center.
Sachire said his team will continue to work on its serving.
“One thing we’ve talked about all year long is continuing to focus on the serve and the return of serve,” Sachire said. “We’re going to continue doing that this week and focus on doing it really well down in Columbus if we want to win that match.”
Sachire said his team will go through its normal practice routine to prep for the Buckeyes (14-1, 0-0 Big Ten).
“We try to stay as normal as we can stay,” Sachire said. “The message I want our guys to always know is that we’re darn good too, and if we take care of our business and we do the things we’re capable of doing — practice hard, be focused, take care of our body treatment and recovery and stuff like that — if we do those things and if we go out and compete hard on Friday night, we’re going to have a chance to beat anybody in the country.
“So while there’s some different nuances we’ll face on Friday, I think the main message is to continue to be who we are and focus on the things we can control to the best of our ability. If we do that, we’re going to give ourselves a good chance.”