NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team split the weekend at two tournaments, competing at the Gopher Challenge in Minnesota and the Dick Vitale Clay Court Invitational in Florida. With 1,627 miles separating the squad geographically, the team fought hard for multiple invitational victories.
“It was an extremely strong weekend for Irish tennis,” head coach Ryan Sachire said. “As a coach, you like to see the results that many of our guys posted this weekend. However, what I’m most proud of is the continuous progress that our men are making as players and as competitors.”
Playing a two-pair competition style, Matt Gamble and Grayson Broadus were named Gopher Invitational Champions, ending the weekend with a doubles win and seven singles victories between the two. As a two-man team, the duo came out victorious four times in the best-of-three style, defeating each opposing team 2-1. Each round in the best-of-three series included one doubles and two singles match-ups. Broadus went undefeated in singles and Gamble came out on top in all but one.
After dropping their first round contest, 2-1, Tristan McCormick and Daniel Rayl went on to finish first on the left side of the bracket (ninth overall). They also won the final three rounds by scores of 2-1 as McCormick was undefeated in singles play. Richard Ciamarra and Nathan Griffin came in 13th at the tournament, dropping close 2-1 decisions before taking a 2-1 decision over Marquette in the third round and sweeping Northwestern in the fourth.
The Irish in Florida played a traditional tournament, starting with the singles round of 32. Four members of the Irish team competed with Guillermo Cabrera, Axel Nefve and William Howells advancing to the second round. All three advanced to the semifinals where teammates Nefve and Cabrera met for a chance in the finals. Battling through three tight sets, Nefve ultimately took the spot in the finals, defeating Cabrera with 6-3, 4-6 and 10-8 decisions.
The ninth annual Clay Court Invitational finals was an all Irish affair as Nefve met Howells to determine a champion. Howells qualified for a spot in the finals having defeated his opponent from Illinois with a pair of 6-2 wins. The teammates then faced off as opponents to determine a champion. Nefve took the championship title at the 2018 event with 6-2 and 6-3 wins over Howells.
“We set a goal on Friday that at least one player from Notre Dame would be in the finals, and they delivered by taking both spots in the finals and three of the four spots in the semifinals,” assistant coach Greg Andrews said. “I could not be more proud of how Axel, William, Guillermo, and Johnathan competed in Florida. They battled hard, supported each other throughout the tournament, and played some great tennis.”
The Irish pair, competing as rivals in the singles tournament, teamed up to fight as a pair in the doubles competition. They won their first two rounds (6-2 and 8-3) before falling to a pair from Florida Gulf Coast (8-3) in the semifinals. Johnathan Small and Cabrera also competed in the doubles competition, defeating their Princeton University opponents 7-6(4) in the round of 16 before dropping an 8-3 decision to a pair from Florida.
“This past weekend was another step as we build towards the spring season and I am happy with the trajectory that we are one,” Sachire added.
The Irish conclude their fall season this weekend in Surprise, Arizona, with Alex Lebedev competing at the ITA Fall National Championships. He qualified for the event following a quarterfinal berth at the ITA All-American Championships earlier this fall.