QUEENS, New York — After an exciting three sets in the final round of competition at the US Open Juniors Tennis Championships, freshman Axel Nefve, of the Irish men’s tennis team, came just shy of the boys’ doubles title.
He, and partner Emilio Nava of California, rallied from a loss in the first set to take the second but in a high scoring finish, their European opponents in Adrian Andreev (Bulgaria) and Anton Matusevich (Great Britain), ultimately took the championship title in the boys’ doubles division.
“It was an incredible week for Axel in New York, and it was a great way to close out his junior career,” Callaghan Family Head Men’s Tennis Coach Ryan Sachire said. “I couldn’t be prouder of how he competed and how he represented Notre Dame throughout the event. The experience gained throughout this tournament will undoubtedly pay dividends for Axel down the road, as he begins in collegiate career for the Fighting Irish.”
The two pairs kept the first set close, trading points before the 6-4 decision went in favor of the opposition. Not ones to back down, Nefve and Nava stormed back, as they have multiple times throughout the tournament, taking the second set with a convincing 6-2 score.
The final set of the tournament featured lots of back-and-forth action, with the point-lead changing on multiple occasions. Taking the early lead, Nefve and Nava gave it their all before eventually taking second place in the 10-8 decision.
Nefve, who ranks 166th in the world for his age, and his partner Nava overcame all odds to advance to the final round of competition. Defeating a pair from Argentina who boasted two of the top-15 junior male tennis stars (2nd and 11th) and a French duo (32nd/38th) in the early stages of competition to advance to the quarterfinals gave the American pair the momentum they needed to go far.
Their run continued as the propelled past the 10th and 30th ranked players before knocking out a European duo (ranked 35th/45th globally) in the semifinal stage.
“I want to thank Jack Swarbrick, Tricia Bellia, [sport administrator] Angie Torain, and the rest of our support staff that allowed Axel to participate in this event and ultimately have this amazing experience,” Coach Sachire concluded.
Nefve, who joins the Irish for the 2018-19 season, is the first representative of Notre Dame to advance to the final round of competition at the US Open Juniors Tennis Championships.