The Notre Dame men’s tennis team laced up their shoes and hit the tennis courts as their spring season commenced in early January. The Fighting Irish went 2-2 in their first four matches, losing both of their home matches but defeating both Purdue and Florida International University handily.
The doubles teams, composed of junior Tristan McCormick and sophomore Axel Nefve and junior Richard Ciamarra and senior Matt Gamble, have been instrumental in leading the Irish to victory. They have won their respective doubles matches in Notre Dame’s previous three matches, helping the Irish to victory over Purdue and Florida International, while scoring Notre Dame’s only two points in their match against Arizona.
While No. 5 Ciamarra has certainly pulled his weight in his doubles play, he has failed to win a match since his opening contest against Liam Drazl of the University of Kentucky. As a high-ranking individual and the only top-25 ranked player on the Notre Dame team, the talented junior has high expectations. Moreover, coach Ryan Sachire will likely look to upper-classman Ciamarra to play a larger leadership role this spring season, while improving on his 4-11 record in the 2018-19 season.
The Fighting Irish will continue non-conference play until late February before commencing ACC competition, hoping to end the season with a positive record and improve on their 4-7 conference record in the 2018-19 season. Conference play will bring a new challenge as the Fighting Irish will have to face four current Intercollegiate Tennis Association top-25 programs, namely North Carolina, Wake Forest, North Carolina State and Florida State. Notre Dame will be looking for redemption against all four teams, having lost to each program in the spring of 2019.
Coming off a dominant victory over Florida Atlantic in the ITA Kickoff Weekend where the team captured the consolation title, the Fighting Irish looked to keep their momentum going against an in-state rival. While many Notre Dame players competed well, their efforts were not enough to come home with the victory over the Indiana Hoosiers. Before the matchup in Bloomington, the Hoosiers lost two straight matches and appeared to be struggling to regain consistency. Although the Irish captured the doubles point rather easily, the Hoosiers stormed back to tie the team score at three with just one point and the win remaining. After winning the first set, McCormick conceded the next two and the Irish suffered a heartbreaking loss. Notre Dame will look to right the ship before conference play begins.
Notre Dame’s women’s tennis team has found more success early in their spring season, winning their first three matches only to fall in their fourth to No. 3 Georgia. The Fighting Irish defeated Bowling Green and Furman handily to commence spring play, but were unable to hold off the Bulldogs, likely one of their toughest opponents this season.
Georgia’s doubles teams swept the competition, with the pairings of Zoe Spence and Cameron Corse and Ally Bojczuk and Bess Waldram both falling to Georgia 6-0. The third doubles match went unfinished as Georgia's singles victories quickly secured their 5-1 win over the Irish. The loss, although disappointing for the Irish, will likely serve as an impetus for improval as the season progresses and as a taste of the level of competition with which Notre Dame will contend in ACC play.
The ACC holds six of the top-25 spots in the ITA rankings, with North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State, Florida State, Miami and Wake Forest dominating early season play. Notre Dame will face each of these programs later this season, with ACC play beginning in late February. Head coach Alison Silverio will likely rely on her number one doubles pairing, Spence and Corse, who also played the number one and number two singles matches against Georgia and Furman, respectively. Despite early wins against Bowling Green, the pairing struggled in their last two matches and will need to show some more consistency in order to best nationally-ranked opponents in the latter half of the season.
Both the men’s and women’s Fighting Irish have tough competition ahead. It will take a consistency of effort built on their early successes to defeat ranked programs in the second half of the 2019-20 season.