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Men’s Tennis

Notre Dame set to host three matches over weekend

| Friday, March 23, 2018

Notre Dame is set to host three matches over the course of three days this weekend. First, the Irish will host a conference match against No. 5 North Carolina on Friday at 3:30 p.m. After a day off, Notre Dame will host another conference foe in Virginia Tech at noon, followed by a late afternoon match with IUPUI at 5 p.m. the same day. All matches will take place at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

The Irish (10-8, 2-1 ACC) are coming off of a 6-1 defeat to Virginia on the road this past Sunday. Sophomore Matt Gamble recorded the only Notre Dame singles win, grabbing a 6-4, 6-2 victory on court No. 5. The No. 3 doubles team of sophomore Guillermo Cabrera and junior Alex Lebedev recorded the only doubles win for Notre Dame with a 6-3 victory.

Ann Curtis | The Observer

Irish junior Grayson Broadus gets set to hit a backhand during Notre Dame’s 5-2 loss to Ohio State on Feb. 25 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said his team knows the type of competition it will face this weekend and the squad is ready to accept the challenge.

“North Carolina has proven to be one of the best programs in the country over the last several years, and I think they’re ranked top five again nationally this year as well,” Sachire said. “They’re one of the best teams in the country and we’re expecting a high level of competition from them, but on the same token we’ve seen that level a lot this year to this point, so I don’t know if there is a whole lot of surprises. We’ve played them already this season at National Indoors, so we know they’re very good. They’ve got a lot of big guys on their team that play powerful games, so we expect them to serve very well and to be aggressive in their style of play, and we will have to match that and do the same thing against them as well.”

Though Virginia Tech (9-5, 0-4) is not as highly ranked as the Tar Heels, Sachire said he isn’t taking the Hokies lightly.

“With Virginia Tech, they are certainly a solid ACC program and their team this year return five or six starters from their team,” he said. “We won at Blacksburg last year 4-3, so it was very close. I think in both ACC matches this weekend, we’re expecting a high level of competition from our opponents, but we will be ready to go.”

Sachire said his team is also looking forward to hosting three important matches on their home turf.

“I think we’re fired up,” Sachire said. “I think we’re excited to play and excited for the opportunities. We’ve done a great job this season. The match with Virginia on Sunday was not our best match, but outside of that we’ve played and competed very well. Particularly we love playing at home and we take a great deal of pride in how we perform in our facility, and so I know our guys are going to be excited and ready to play both matches this weekend.”

When asked about North Carolina, Sachire said there are not many secrets between his team and the Tar Heels.

“Sometimes you enter matches where you haven’t played against certain opponents and there is a little bit of a feeling-out process where you figure out kind of how the opponent plays and how you can counter what he wants to do,” Sachire said. “I think with the UNC guys, we played them twice last year and already this year. I think for the most part we have a reasonable handle on how they play, and I’m sure they have a handle on how we play. It will honestly be about execution and which team can perform better on Friday. We know we’re going to need to play well to beat them, but we also know that we are capable of it. It will be an exciting day and an exciting opportunity for our guys, and we’re going to be ready to go.”

Sachire said he hopes his team will begin playing their best stretch of tennis starting this weekend.

“We want to make a push here this last month or so of the season and we want to be playing our best stretch of tennis as we head down the stretch here,” Sachire said. “That’s honestly more important than getting a team win or anything like that. I think if you put pressure on results, I don’t think it’s healthy. We want to focus on how we are playing and competing, and if we do our best and continue to improve throughout the rest of the year, we’re going to be in a great condition to win a lot of matches.”

The Irish will start the weekend’s play off Friday with the Tar Heels, with the match set to start at 3:30 p.m. at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

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