Notre Dame to play Illinois coming off sweep of Boston College
Dominic Gibson | Thursday, February 13, 2020
The Notre Dame men’s tennis team will travel to Champaign, Illinois, to take on the Fighting Illini on Saturday. After sweeping Boston College 5-0 last Friday, The Irish (3-3) will be looking to pick up another victory at the end of a stretch of five matches on the road before they head home to take on 6th-ranked Ohio State (8-0) at home.
Grabbing the opening doubles point can turn out to be paramount in deciding matches. The Irish have had the benefit of strong doubles play this season, securing the doubles point their last five matches in a row.
Irish head coach Ryan Sachire praised the efforts of his doubles teams.
“We have had great continuity at our No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions this year, and both of those teams have played well,” Sachire said. “As a program, we take a great deal of pride in our doubles and emphasize it in practice. Hopefully we can continue the success that we have had to this point.”
Notre Dame will once again need to start off quick and grab the early point as well as play their style of tennis if they are to be successful against a solid Illinois (1-5) squad.
“Illinois is an extremely talented team and will certainly be ranked in the top 15 by the end of the year. Keys to our success are going to be simple and consistent with what they have been all year,” Sachire said. “We want to play strong doubles and give ourselves a great chance to earn that first point of the match, and we have to be poised and competitive at all nine spots in the lineup. If we are able to meet these goals, it is going to be a highly competitive and entertaining match.”
Both the Irish and the Illini boast firepower in their singles lineup. At the top of their line, Illinois is led by the 18th-ranked player in the nation in junior Alex Brown as well as last year’s NCAA singles semifinalist in senior Aleks Kovacevic.
Notre Dame will look for strong performances from fifth-ranked junior Richard Ciamarra, sophomore Axel Nefve and junior Tristan McCormick to help power the squad.
While the schedule may seem daunting, Sachire said that it has helped his team prepare for these kinds of matches against top tier opponents.
“The beauty about our schedule is that we play many of the very best teams in the country. We know what the environment is like and what we are going to face on Saturday night in terms of playing against a great opponent,” he said. “Our week of preparation is aiming toward having our guys feeling sharp, rested and ready to roll on Saturday night.”
Doubles play will begin at 7 p.m. at the Atkins Tennis Center, with singles directly following it.