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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Irish pick up pair of wins against ACC rivals

Notre Dame wrapped up an undefeated weekend at home by defeating ACC rival Miami by a score of 5-2 Sunday, after securing a victory over Duke on Friday by the same score.

The Irish (10-8, 4-2 ACC) bounced back from their 7-0 loss at the hands of No. 10 Wake Forest and a 4-3 defeat to Clemson the previous weekend. For Irish head coach Ryan Sachire, the ability of his team to bounce back from the losses to Wake Forest and Clemson was the thing that impressed him most.

“I thought we did a great job of responding from a tough weekend beforehand,” Sachire said. “Guys came to practice ready to get better — I thought Tuesday was one of the best practices of the year.”

The Irish snapped their two-game slide against the Blue Devils (8-9, 2-3 ACC), starting the match strong by picking up the doubles point through 6-3 wins on Courts 2 and 3. In the singles portion of the match, freshman Grayson Broadus, seniors Quentin Monaghan and Kenneth Sabacinski and junior Eddy Covalschi each clinched a point for the Irish in their respective matches. Sachire said the ability of his players to win the critical points within their matches — at times a problem area for the Irish this season — was the key to their success.

“I thought we responded well when our opponents made a run,” Sachire said. “In matches like that the difference oftentimes comes down to a few key points, and I thought our guys did a good job and kept battling.”

Against Miami (7-7, 2-2 ACC), the Irish had to rally after a poor start, as they dropped the doubles point to the Hurricanes — usually a major setback to a team’s chances of winning the match. The Irish fought back in singles, however, drawing even with a victory by Monaghan on Court 1, and then reeling off victories on the next four courts, courtesy of Covalschi, junior Josh Hagar, senior Alex Lawson and Broadus, who clinched the Irish victory on Court 5 with a clutch rally in the tiebreaker against Miami sophomore Kevin Bondar. It was the first match the Irish have won this year after losing the doubles point, and Sachire said he is starting to see a stronger identity develop as a team.

“We’re getting healthier, and so we have a lot more continuity in the lineup,” Sachire said. “Guys are getting more confident and have a lot more clarity in their roles on the team.”

Next up for the Irish is a date with the No. 1 ranked men’s team in the nation: Virginia. The Irish will hit the road and play the Cavaliers (14-2, 4-0 ACC) this Friday, followed by a match at Georgia Tech on Sunday. For Sachire, this road trip provides the Irish with a couple of chances to get a quality road win and improve their standings within the ACC.

“Virginia has arguably been the top program in the country over the past several years, so this gives us a great opportunity at a great win,” Sachire said. “We split our matches with Georgia Tech last year, and they’re a really good team so that’s gonna be a tough match as well. It’s a great challenge this weekend and we’re looking forward to it.”

Notre Dame and Virginia are set to face-off at 3 p.m. on Friday in Charlottesville, Virginia.