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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer

Irish set for ACC tournament opener against Louisville

Sofia CrimiVaroli
Irish senior Connor Fu prepares to strike the ball in Notre Dame's 4-2 loss to UNC on March 3 in Notre Dame, Indiana.

This Thursday, Notre Dame men’s tennis will open up play with a matchup against Louisville in Cary, North Carolina.

The No. 7 seed Cardinals should present a difficult task for the Irish for multiple reasons. For one, Louisville is the higher-seeded squad. They’ll enter Cary having won three of their last four matches. Notre Dame, in contrast, has dropped their last two.

Compounding matters is the fact that one of those two recent losses by the Irish came at the hands of Louisville. Notre Dame will take the court in North Carolina with their most recent action being a 4-0 sweep by the Cardinals in Louisville. The sweep was one of Notre Dame’s worst outings in their ACC slate, one of four instances in conference play where the Irish failed to register a point.

A major storyline for Notre Dame heading into the tournament is the availability of multiple members of their roster. Graduate student Addy Vashistha didn’t compete in the Irish’s most recent contest. Vashistha is usually a staple of the Notre Dame singles competition rotation. His status for the ACC Tournament is uncertain.

Further hurting Notre Dame’s odds is uncertainty around the availability of freshman Sebastian Dominko. The breakout rookie didn’t compete in the team’s last matches before their season finale six days ago. He made an appearance against Louisville last Thursday, but only in doubles play. Dominko’s 11-6 record in singles play is by some distance the best on the Irish roster. If he competes in singles on Thursday in Cary, Notre Dame’s chances of winning should see a significant boost.

Leading the way for the Cardinals is former Oklahoma State transfer Ettiene Donnet. The senior has been excellent in singles play on the year, posting a 17-4 record. His 81% winning percentage leads all Louisville players who have competed in more than five matches. 

Donnett has also been a force in doubles play, partnering primarily with either Fabien Salle or Sergio Hernandez. The Donnett-Hernandez pairing has produced the best results, sporting an 8-5 record. But recently, the Cardinals have opted to pair Donnett with Salle. The Donnett-Salle pairing has had less success, going 1-2 together. But it opens the door for Hernandez to pair with Natan Rodrigues. Rodrigues and Hernandez are 6-0 on the year as a duo.

Notre Dame men’s tennis will be back in action on Thursday from Cary, North Carolina when they take on Louisville. The contest is set for a 6 p.m. start. The winner will face off against second-seeded Duke in the quarterfinals.