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Men’s Tennis

ND builds confidence at home invitational, Lebedev qualifies for Fall Nationals

and | Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Over the weekend, Notre Dame hosted the annual Bobby Bayliss Invitational. The tournament featured eight teams — Illinois, Iowa, Louisville, Marquette, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Western Michigan.

On the first day of the tournament, the Irish had four teams competing in eight doubles matches, and the squads put on a strong showing to get the Irish started with some momentum. Senior Daniel Royl and sophomore Paul Gota defeated a doubles team from Iowa 6-2, and then went on to sweep a squad from Nebraska 6-0. While that duo started off with two quick wins, the team of senior Grayson Broadus and junior Matt Gamble kept the success going, beating a team from Nebraska 6-4 and a team from Western Michigan 7-5. Juniors Conor Somers and Johnathan Small teamed up to grab two wins of their own, but the duo lost their final match of the day.

On day two, Broadus won his first matchup against Louisville (6-7, 7-6, 1-0(8)). Meanwhile senior Nathan Griffin started his day off with a loss but bounced back with a win over Louisville, and Gamble picked up a win as well. Gota finished his day with two victories, one over Michigan State and one over Nebraska. Broadus picked up two wins on the day.

On the last day of the tournament, the duo of Broadus and Gamble picked up another win over Western Michigan to finish the tournament undefeated in doubles play. After that duo closed out the tournament on top, Griffin and Gamble finished their respective tournaments with a win each to conclude what was, for the Irish, a solid showing at home.

After the tournament, head coach Ryan Sachire commented on how he was pleased with his team’s persistence throughout these past few weeks, especially the play of senior Alex Lebedev, who earned a berth to the ITA Fall National Championships later this season. 

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish senior Alex Lebedev prepares to return a serve during Notre Dame’s 6-1 win over Michigan State on Jan. 1 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“I think first and foremost the great thing is that every single guy on our team competed last week either in Tulsa at All-Americans or here at the Bobby Bayliss Invitational,” Sachire said. “They’re getting matches and each guy played a high quantity, and that’s a good thing because every time you play you get to see where you’re at and what you have to work on and it makes practice more focused.

“Individually, Alex Lebedev making quarters at All-Amercian with some of the best players in the country proved him to be one of the best eight there so that was awesome. Some great stuff from Tulsa was William Howells winning six matches, nearly getting through last run of qualifying and the guy he lost to made the quarters of the main draw. As far as the Bobby Bayliss, Matt Gamble winning his final three matches was a positive, and senior Nathan Griffin going 3-1 was good tennis. Overall, it was a positive weekend where everyone got a chance to see where they’re at and what we need to work on.”

Sachire also commented on the importance of serves and returning serves moving forward for the team’s success.

“Obviously it’s different for each individual, but as a whole, tennis is complicated,” Sachire said. “At the same time, if you’re a good server and good returner you’ll win a lot. We’re getting ready for Midwest championships at end of fall break, and that’s played indoors which is quicker, so there’s an emphasis on serve and returning serve which will be huge, especially indoors in practice leading up, making sure we’re locked in and serving really well and getting in reps returning serve and work on those two skills heading into the next event.”

Overall, Sachire expressed confidence in his team moving forward, and is pleased with the direction in which the squad is heading.

“Really positive one. I think almost all of our guys have had big wins this fall, and most have only played two tournaments so far and they’ve had success and confidence to draw from,” he said. “At same time it gives them what they can work on and improve move forward with in the fall and beyond. My philosophy in the spring and fall is to challenge the guys and push them to the next level in their game so we’ve tried to play a tough schedule and quality opponents which shows what you need to get better at and conquer and move on from, and to this point they’ve done a good job of working hard in practice and on game days, and we hope to continue to improve moving forward.”

This weekend, the Irish will head to Harlingen, Texas for the ITF Futures Event, and Sachire said that, although it’s an extra event, it will be good for some of the guys to see what the competition is like at the next level.

“The Futures event has three guys playing with Tristan McCormick, Axel Nefve and Alex Lebedev who will play with a great opportunity to play in a professional tournament that isn’t part of the normal schedule,” Sachire said. “It’s an extra event that won’t count but it’s a really cool opportunity to see tennis at the next level for some guys with high aspirations of playing after ND, so more exposure at pro level and more experience will make them better off in college and after. I’m excited for what they have in store.”

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