NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The No. 13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish stormed back late in the match to maintain their undefeated season and claim their first conference victory with their 4-3 win over No. 12 Virginia.
“What a great win for our team tonight,” Callaghan Family Head Coach Ryan Sachire said. “Virginia has a great program and we have a ton of respect for their team.”
With the crowd on their feet, William Howells sealed the comeback win for the team as he claimed the final point of the match with a 6-4 victory in the third set.
“A huge thank you to the fans that showed up and supported our team tonight,” he added. “They made a big difference and we love playing in front of them.”
The Irish started the evening off strong, earning convincing wins of 6-0 and 6-2 to secure the doubles point.
Alex Lebedev and Axel Nefve finished first, sweeping their Cavalier opponents 6-0 to give the Irish an edge with two matches still competing. The top doubles pairing in Richard Ciamarra and Tristan McCormick took the point as they defeated their Virginia contesters, 6-2.
The two teams split the first set of singles matches, taking three apiece. Court three finished first as Nefve dropped the number three singles 1-6, 4-6 to Virginia’s Henrik Wiersholm.
The team then faced their first deficit of the season as Virginia’s Carl Soderlund took down Ciamarra in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5. The Cavaliers stayed on top in the second set, defeating McCormick in a hard fought 3-6, 5-7 showing in Virginia’s favor.
The Irish came back within one as Guillermo Cabrera defeated Aswin Lizen 7-5, 6-2 to post the second Irish point of the night.
In dramatic fashion, the final two matches of the day had everyone on the edge of their seats as Lebedev tied the game at three, with his 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 victory.
As the match wound down to one court, all eyes were on Notre Dame’s Howells and his Cavalier opponent, Goetz, who traded a pair of sets early on. After taking the first set, 6-4, Howells’ opponent claimed the second 6-3 to force a third. Battling back-and-forth early, Howells pulled away after eight games to post a final set win of 6-4 to clinch the Irish victory.
“Our guys battled hard all night and just found a way down the stretch,” he concluded. “Alex [Lebedev] and William [Howells] were both down breaks in their third sets and really stepped up the last 15 minutes of the dual match to get the win for their team. I couldn’t be more proud of the confidence and grit that they displayed out there.”
The Irish are now 4-0 in 2019 and will return home to Eck Tennis Pavilion this Sunday (February 3) for a double header against No. 14 Texas A&M and IUPUI. The first match of the day, against the Aggies, gets underway at noon ET followed by a dual against the Jaguars at 5 p.m.
#13 Notre Dame 4, #12 Virginia 3
1. Alex Lebedev (ND) def. Brandon Nakashima (VA) 6-4, 1-6, 7-5
2. Carl Soderlund (VA) def. Richard Ciamarra (ND) 6-1, 7-5
3. Henrik Wiersholm (VA) def. Axel Nefve (ND) 6-1, 6-4
4. Gianni Ross (VA) def. Tristan McCormick (ND) 6-3, 7-5
5. William Howells (ND) def. Ryan Goetz (VA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
6. Guillermo Cabrera (ND) def. Aswin Lizen (VA) 7-5, 6-2
1. Richard Ciamarra/Tristan McCormick (ND) def. Carl Soderlund/Matthew Lord (VA) 6-2
2. Alex Lebedev/Axel Nefve (ND) def. Ryan Goetz/William Woodall (VA) 6-0
3. Henrik Wiersholm/Brandon Nakashima (VA) def. Grayson Broadus/Matt Gamble (ND) 5-1