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Sports

Lebedev falls in first round of Fall National Championship, shifts focus to consolation bracket

| Thursday, November 8, 2018

After a successful fall season that saw senior Alex Lebedev climb to No. 16 in collegiate singles seeding, he found himself in the Oracle ITA Fall National Championships with a first-round matchup against unseeded David Volfson of Cornell. Unfortunately, Lebedev’s road to the finals ended there, as Volfson was able to advance in three sets after a hard-fought match.

The match started well for Lebedev, as he was able to break Volfson on serve early and take a 3-0 lead. He went on to hold serve the remainder of the set to secure the first set 6-3. Soon after, however, it was Volfson who raised his level of play to break Lebedev and reverse the outcome of the first set by taking the second 6-3. In the deciding third set, it was all Volfson, who won by a decisive 6-1 score, leaving Lebedev little room for error and ultimately moving on to play August Holmgren of San Diego on Thursday morning. Afterward, head coach Ryan Sachire noted how difficult winning can be once you get to such a high level of tennis.

“Alex was disappointed, obviously. He knows he didn’t maybe play his best tennis, but at the same time, as far as what I said to him — and I think every top player realizes this — the margins are thin,” Sachire said. “There’s not much difference in the level of play among all of the competitors here who are the best of the best. On any given day, any one of these guys can beat one another. … Today wasn’t his day, but hopefully tomorrow it’ll be a better level and he can continue to play in this even as the week goes on.”

Lebedev will now shift his focus to the consolation bracket, as he is continuing on in the tournament with a match tomorrow, this time taking on Yancy Dennis of South Carolina. It will be the first of five rounds in the consolation bracket, and Sachire believes he will be getting the best out of Lebedev as his play this week in Arizona could be far from over.

“I’m hoping to just see him get back to himself, and we trust in what he does on the court. I have full expectation that he’s going to play very well,” Sachire said. “I think as this tournament goes on he has the potential to go very far in this consolation draw if he plays well, so that’s what we’re looking forward to and expecting to have happen. He’s going to give his best effort every time out there and the vast majority of the time when he does that he’s successful, so that’s what we expect and plan on happening as the week goes on.”

The majority of the team wrapped up play for the fall last weekend, and as a whole Sachire has been very impressed with his team’s performance. As play wraps up this week for Lebedev, Sachire feels confident his team is heading in a good direction as they look towards the spring season.

“I think when you invest consistently in anything you do, you’re going to ultimately reap the rewards,” Sachire said. “I look at this as another part of the process and the path that this group is on, and we need to continue to make the same investment over these next two months without the college competition being there week-in and week-out. We need to continue to work hard and make gains in our fitness, and then hopefully prepare ourselves for a successful spring season starting in January.”

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