Irish fall to Buckeyes, prepare to host Spartans
Patrick Gallagher | Wednesday, February 27, 2019
On Sunday, No. 12 Notre Dame lost 6-1 to No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes (15-0, 0-0 Big Ten) came into the match undefeated in spring play, but the Irish (8-6, 2-0 ACC) fought hard to challenge the one of the best teams in the country.
Irish senior Alex Lebedev battled with Ohio State junior J.J. Wolf, the top ranked player in the country, ultimately losing the first set 7-5 and the second set 6-3. Notre Dame freshman Axel Nefve lost a close match to Ohio State senior Martin Joyce in the third set while sophomore William Howells secured the lone point for the Notre Dame with a two-set victory over Ohio State senior Hunter Tubert.
Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said he was impressed with play of his younger players.
“I was impressed with Axel Nefve being a freshman and playing against their number four guy, who is a very good player and has won many college tennis matches,” Sachire said. “Axel was right there going toe to toe with him, and he did a great job of playing with urgency and focus on every single point. I was also impressed with William Howells winning our number six singles. He’s been out of our lineup in the last couple of matches, but he went back in on Sunday and did a great job.”
Sachire said doubles play has been a major area of attention for the team recently.
“We focused a lot last week on doubles, and I felt we played much better doubles during the weekend,” Sachire said. “We’re going to really continue to emphasize that because getting the doubles point … is an important part of college tennis dual match. The rest of our focus in practice is going to be about sharpening up what our guys do in their individual games.”
On Friday, the Irish will head back home to the Eck Tennis Pavilion to face Michigan State. The Spartans (5-7, 0-0 Big Ten) have dropped three straight matches and will be motivated to break their losing streak. However, Notre Dame is 5-1 at home and will look to continue their dominance in South Bend.
Sachire said the Irish want to perform well and earn the victory against Michigan State.
“It’s simple,” he said. “We want to play well and get those four points. We’ve lost a few matches in a row, but our level of play has been … high. Finishing matches off … was something that we were doing earlier in the year, but it’s been a little bit tricky for us in the last couple weekends. But, in terms of how we’re playing, we are not far off from our best. We want to come out on Friday and finish the deal.”
Sachire said the match against the Spartans will be tough and that Notre Dame will have to be ready to fight.
“They are a Big Ten program and a good team,” Sachire said. “Anytime you play a program with the pedigree of Michigan State, you know it’s going to be a challenge. Our guys are going to have to play well … when we get into position to finish sets and matches.”
The Irish and Spartans will begin play at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.