Irish fall short to Fighting Illini on the road
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Last Saturday, the Notre Dame men’s tennis team travelled to Champaign, Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini (3-5) to finish off their road sweep. Despite a hard-fought match, the Irish (3-4) fell short by the score of 5-2.
While the Irish have secured the doubles point in their last five matches, the streak would ultimately come to an end in nail-biting fashion. The No. 1 doubles pairing of sophomore Axel Nefve and junior Tristan McCormick would start off strong, taking down the No. 43 doubles team of junior Alex Brown and senior Aleks Kovacevic by the score of 6-3. The Illini responded right back with redshirt freshman Lucas Horve and senior Zeke Clark winning in a tiebreak, 7-6 (7-4) over senior Guillermo Cabrera and junior Paul Gota on court three. The deciding match on court two would also go to a tiebreak as redshirt junior Gui Gomez and sophomore Siphosothando Montsi outlasted junior Richard Ciamarra and senior Matt Gamble, taking the match and the doubles point by the score of 7-6 (14-12).
In singles, the Illini’s 91st ranked Zeke Clark secured the first win, beating freshman Connor Fu 6-2, 6-2 to give his team a 2-0 advantage. Tristan McCormick would answer for the Irish, beating 42nd ranked Siphosothando Montsi 6-4, 6-2. Illinois would stretch their lead to 3-1 when 78th ranked Alecks Kovacevic defeated Axel Nefve in a second set tiebreaker 6-2, 7-6 (7-4). Guillermo Cabrera would put Notre Dame back into striking distance at 2-3, taking his singles match by the score of 6-2, 6-4 over redshirt freshman Alex Bancila. The Illini would seal the victory at the number one singles position after Alex Brown defeated No. 5 Richard Ciamarra by the score of 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Lucas Horve picked up the final singles victory to make things 5-1, winning 4-6, 7-5, 11-9 over Matt Gamble.
The Irish will now return home and turn their attention to No. 6 Ohio State and St. Bonaventure to kick off a four-match home stand. Matches are set for 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Eck Tennis Pavillion.