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Sports

ND men’s tennis faces tough test to close regular season

| Friday, April 16, 2021

The Notre Dame men’s tennis team looks to close out the regular season this weekend with a pair of home dates against the Virginia Cavaliers and Virginia Tech Hokies. Coming off a successful road swing, the 35th-ranked Irish (13-8, 6-4 ACC) begin with a tough matchup against an imposing Virginia squad on Friday and finish up the regular season against a capable Virginia Tech team on Sunday.

The Cavaliers (16-2, 10-0 ACC) are ranked fifth in the country and sit atop the ACC standings, making for an extremely difficult test for an Irish group that is trending in the right direction. The Irish have won their past four matches and have generally played well at home all season (posting a 10-3 record at Eck Tennis Pavilion), but they will have to play their very best to compete with a Virginia team that has firmly established itself as one of the best in the country.

Led by sixth-ranked graduate student Carl Söderlund, the Cavaliers’ singles lineup is brimming with elite talent. In addition to Söderlund, two freshmen Cavaliers – Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg and Iñaki Montes de la Torre — rank in the top 50 of the singles rankings, at 24th and 49th respectively.

Junior Axel Nefve leads the Irish lineup and ranks 35th nationally for singles. Nefve has been playing his best tennis lately, not having dropped a singles match since Feb. 21 and recently defeating 20th-ranked Marcus McDaniel in last weekend’s win against Georgia Tech. This matchup against a top opponent in Söderlund will be a great challenge for Nefve as he looks to catch his stride before the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

The Cavaliers don’t have as deep a lineup in the doubles game, but their number one team — composed of Söderlund and junior William Woodall — places ninth in the national rankings and will be a good matchup for the Irish top doubles squad of Nefve and senior Richard Ciamarra, which ranks 37th nationally. The match between the Irish and the Cavaliers will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

The Irish clash on Sunday with the 29th-ranked Hokies (10-7, 5-5 ACC) will give the team another opportunity to finish out the season strong and prepare for the postseason against a quality opponent. The top-ranked player for the Hokies — who sit just below the Irish in the conference standings at sixth — is No. 51 graduate student Alexandre Ribeiro, but their number one doubles pair, made up of sophomore Jordan Chrysostom and freshman Ryan Fishback, places an impressive 25th in the nation. The match will begin at noon on Sunday, also at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

After finishing up this home stand the Irish will set their sights on the ACC Men’s Championships, which will take place in Rome, Georgia, beginning April 21, and the NCAA Men’s Championship, which will begin May 16 in Orlando, Florida.

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