Champaign, IL– Irish are coming off a big ACC win last weekend over Boston College as they clinched the 5-0 sweep, extending ND’s undefeated record over the Falcons to 9-0. The men’s team hits the road once more as it travels to Illinois for the final leg of its first road swing of the season. The matchup is slated for Saturday at 7 p.m. ET at the Atkins Tennis Center. The Irish have yet to beat Illinois under Coach Sachire’s reign, but are ready to flip the narrative as the Fighting Illini are only 1-5 so far this season.
Head Coach Ryan Sachire recognizes the difficulty that Notre Dame may face this weekend but is excited the team gets a chance to go up against it’s midwest rival.
"Illinois is a very strong opponent and one of our biggest rivals," said Coach Sachire. "We are excited about playing in a big match and going up against a great opponent."
Tristan McCormick reflects on last year’s loss, however, McCormick is looking forward to going into their territory and battling for the teams first win over the Fighting Illini.
“This is a big match for us that we’ve definitely been looking forward to," stated McCormick. "Illinois always has a tough squad that is ready to compete hard. They got us on the road in a battle last year, so we want to go into their house and do the same this year.”
As McCormick stated, the Fighting Illini barely pulled out the win after a lengthy battle, resulting in a 4-3 win over the Irish. According to last year’s recap, “Guillermo Cabrera put the Irish on the scoreboard (after the Irish dropped in doubles), finishing first in the singles as he defeated Noe Khlif in straight sets 6-2, 6-1. The Irish kept the momentum going as they claimed two more points in singles as a No. 18 ranked Irish player beat the Illini opponent, No. 23 Alex Brown, on court one, 6-3, 7-5 while Tristan McCormick came back to upset a No. 125 ranked Illini.” Unfortunately, the last three courts were dropped by the Irish, allowing the Fighting Illini to claim the battle.
Notre Dame is channeling the 2012-13 Irish squad as they clinched the only win over Illinois, 4-1, prior to the Irish entering the ACC. During the 2013 matchup, the Irish claimed doubles before Illinois tied things up with the first singles win. Notre Dame regained control of the match and extended the lead to 3-1 as the Irish triumphed over Illinois. After a long back-and-forth battle on the final singles court, the Irish clinched the first, and ultimately only win over the Fighting Illini.
As of February 5, Richard Ciamarra still sits at No. 5 in the nation and the Irish duo, Richard Ciamarra/Tristan McCormick, are ranked No. 32 though they have not competed as a pair so far this season. As for Illinois, “There will be a lot of marquee players in this match. Illinois is led by last year’s NCAA Singles semifinalist Aleks Kovacevic and Alex Brown, who is currently ranked No. 18 in the nation,” stated Coach Sachire. “Illinois is an extremely talented team and will certainly be ranked in the Top 15 by the end of the year.”
So far this year, the Fighting Illini have a 1-5 overall record after they were swept by North Carolina and Florida, and defeated by Ole Miss, Duke and Central Florida.
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