March 7, 2018
By Joanne Norell
URBANA, Ill. – The 19th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team battled its way into striking position Wednesday against sixth-ranked Illinois, but fell in a 4-1 decision that was closer than the final score indicated at Illinois’ Atkins Tennis Center.
How It Happened
The Irish (8-6) won the first doubles match in emphatic fashion, as No. 55-ranked senior Brendon Kempin and freshman Tristan McCormick defeated Aron Hiltzik and Vuk Budic 6-2 on Court 1, but the Illini (9-4) won the remaining matches to take the first team point. Zeke Clark and Aleks Kovacevic defeated sophomore Guillermo Cabrera and junior Alex Lebedev 6-3 on Court 2, while Caleb Chakravarthi and Alex Brown clinched the point with a 7-5 victory over freshman Richard Ciamarra and sophomore Matt Gamble.
The home team quickly went up 2-0 when 50th-ranked Brown defeated Ciamarra 6-4, 6-4 on Court 2. Later, Kovacevic downed Cabrera 6-3, 7-5 on Court 3 to give Illinois a 3-0 edge.
McCormick put the Irish on the scoreboard, though, defeating Noe Khlif 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 at the No. 5 spot, and the remaining three matches also went to third sets.
The 33rd-ranked Lebedev dropped his second set on Court 1 after winning the first, but ultimately forced a tiebreaker in the third against No. 100 Hiltzik, while Gamble won a second-set breaker against Zeke Clark to force a third set. Freshman William Howells won his first set against Chakravarthi and led 5-2 in the second, but fell to the Illini freshman 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in what proved to be the decisive match.
The Irish will return to the court in doubleheader action on Saturday, facing Atlantic Coast Conference foe Louisville (8-3) at noon ET and DePaul (11-5) at 5 p.m. ET at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
- Notre Dame is 24-28 all-time against Illinois, including 0-6 under Callaghan Family Head Men’s Tennis Coach Ryan Sachire.
No. 6 Illinois 4, No. 19 Notre Dame 1
March 7, 2018
Atkins Tennis Center
1. No. 33 Alex Lebedev (ND) vs. No. 100 Aron Hiltzik (UI) 6-3, 3-6, 6-6 (4-3), unfinished
2. No. 50 Alex Brown (UI) def. Richard Ciamarra (ND) 6-4, 6-4
3. Aleks Kovacevic (UI) def. Guillermo Cabrera (ND) 6-3, 7-5
4. Matt Gamble (ND) vs. Zeke Clark (UI) 4-6, 7-6(4), 2-2, unfinished
5. Tristan McCormick (ND) def. Noe Khlif (UI) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
6. Caleb Chakravarthi (UI) def. William Howells (ND) 4-6, 7-5, 6-4
1. No. 55 Brendon Kempin / Tristan McCormick (ND) def. Aron Hiltzik/Vuk Budic (UI) 6-2
2. Zeke Clark / Aleks Kovacevic (UI) def. Guillermo Cabrera / Alex Lebedev (ND) 6-3
3. Caleb Chakravarthi / Alex Brown (UI) def. Richard Ciamarra / Matt Gamble (ND) 7-5
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame men’s tennis and fencing programs, in addition to assisting with football communications and overseeing production of the football Gameday Magazine. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.