Notre Dame prepares to take on Duke and UNC
Mannion McGinley | Friday, March 25, 2022
Exactly halfway through regular-season conference play, Irish men’s tennis takes to the court again this weekend to play Duke and North Carolina. With a 4-2 conference record, head coach Ryan Sachire said he is pleased with where the team sits currently.
“It’s been a good start,” Sachire said. “We’ve played six matches, and we’re 4-2 in the conference. The one thing that’s pretty notable is how much parity [there is] in the ACC. Ten of the 13 are NCAA tournament-level teams.”
In their last couple of matches, Sachire said he’s been able to rely on senior Axel Nefve and graduate student Peter Conklin, especially in their consistency.
“[Axel’s] doing a great job. He’s been consistent every day. He’s finding himself in really tough matches, really close matches.” Sachire said. “And Peter’s awesome. He’s as steady a personality as you’re going to find. He’s ready to compete, and he does what he does.”
Most recently, though, the Irish took on the Miami Hurricanes in conference play. The match was tied-up, 3-3, before junior Connor Fu stepped up for the Irish to clinch the match. Sachire described what it took for Fu to find that win, especially having to regain composure for the third set since he won the first 6-3 and then fell 4-6.
“Toughness. Mental toughness,” Sachire said of Fu in that moment. “He got broken at 5-4, did not play a good game. Connor immediately responded and broke the guy again.”
He won the last set 7-5 over Juan Martin Jalif, Miami’s doubles leader. This win pulled the Irish ahead 4-3 to win the match over the Hurricanes.
Sachire said the Irish expect to see two more “really tight matches” this weekend when they take on the Blue Devils (12-4, 5-1 ACC) and the Tarheels (9-6, 4-2 ACC). The one space where the Irish haven’t found consistent success in the last few matches has been in the doubles point.
Against the Hurricanes, the Irish lost the first two doubles sets. Juan Martin Jalif and Franco Aubone defeated Nefve and junior Matthew Che 6-3. Then, Hurricanes Benjamin Hannestad and Martin Katz took down Conklin and junior Matthew Halpin 6-3 as well. Fu and sophomore Jean-Marc Malkowski didn’t get to finish their set. In the previous conference matchup, the Irish fell in all three doubles sets as well. Sachire says he intends to maintain the combinations from Miami, though.
“We lost the doubles point the last two matches, and we want to get that back on track,” Sachire said. “Our intention is to play with those combinations, or at least those six players and maybe tweak the combinations. It comes down to who complements each other very well. The six that we have do a good job of playing aggressive doubles and being really strong on our serve.”
The Irish face the Blue Devils at 4 p.m. on Friday and then the Tarheels on Sunday at 12 p.m.