Notre Dame competes at ITA All-American Championships
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, October 4, 2018
Notre Dame is just getting its season underway, and it is finding success in the early going as seen this past week at the ITA All-American Championships. The event followed up a successful first weekend for the Irish in which team members participated in three separate events: the Milwaukee Classic, University of Virginia Masters and the Western Michigan/Vredevelt Invitational. Particularly strong performances on that weekend came from sophomore William Howells and junior Matt Gamble who reached the doubles semifinals in Wisconsin, sophomore Richard Ciamarra who reached the singles semifinals in Virginia and senior Daniel Rayl who took the home the Flight B championship in Michigan, earning All-Tournament Second Team honors in the process.
Looking at this past weekend’s competition, play got underway on Sept. 29 as seven team members made the trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for pre-qualifying, including Gamble, Howells, senior Grayson Broadus, junior Guillermo Cabrera, sophomore Tristan McCormick, freshman Axel Nefve and junior Johnathan Small. Ciamarra joined Monday for the qualifying rounds. The event brought with it significant stakes as the winner of the championships earned a birth in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships which take place Nov. 7-11 in Surprise, Arizona. If history is any indicator, Notre Dame would stand a decent shot in the competition as each of the last eight champions have come from ACC Institutions with William Blumberg of North Carolina taking home the title in 2017.
Unfortunately for the Irish, they came up short in their path to the title, but the team did find success throughout the weekend. Howells and McCormick won all of their matches in the pre-qualifying round of the tournament and joined Ciamarra in the qualifying stage. Howells was able to win his first two matches in qualifying before losing late in three games, falling just short of qualification, while Ciamarra won his first match but came up short in the second round. McCormick lost his first round matchup, but he was able to win his consolation match the following day. However, not all hope is lost for the Irish as results as the final tournament round is scheduled to conclude Thursday with senior Alex Lebedev, who was ranked No. 19 in the Oracle ITA Preseason rankings, slated to join the competition with the last chance to represent Notre Dame in Arizona.
Beyond this week, the Irish will not have much of a break as they get right back into action this Friday when they play host for the Bobby Bayliss Invitational. The following weekend Notre Dame will return south for the ITF Futures event in Harlingen, Texas, before coming back home for the ITA Midwest Regional Championship at Eck Tennis Pavilion. Head coach Ryan Sachire has been optimistic as the season has started and has kept an open mind about the roles being developed throughout the team. Those roles have begun to take shape over these first couple of events, and there will be much more to be decided in the coming weeks as the Irish enter the bulk of their season.