April 27, 2018
By Joanne Norell
CARY, N.C. -- The fourth-seeded and 24th-ranked University of Notre Dame men's tennis team didn't need an existing script Friday in its ACC Championship quarterfinal match against No. 12 seed Georgia Tech. After defeating the Yellow Jackets 5-2 a week ago in Atlanta, the Irish approached Friday's contest with a fresh slate -- if only to come to a similar result in a 4-1 victory at Cary Tennis Park.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Just as in the regular-season meeting, Georgia Tech (8-17) claimed the doubles point, winning on Courts 2 and 3.
But as in that prior match-up a week ago, the Irish (18-12) used singles to build their advantage, taking the first set on five of six courts, including two at 7-5 and one in a tiebreaker.
The momentum set up a series of wins in quick succession. Sophomore Guillermo Cabrera was first off for the Irish, cruising to a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Phillip Gresk on Court 3. Freshman Richard Ciamarra followed swiftly, dispatching Michael Kay 7-5, 6-2 to give the Irish their first lead.
Sophomore Matt Gamble and freshman Tristan McCormick raced for next point, both potentially serving for the match. It was Gamble who was quicker, downing Elijah Melendez 7-6(3), 6-2 on Court 4, allowing McCormick to clinch it with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Chris Yun.
On the remaining courts, 37th-ranked junior Alex Lebedev had forced a third set against No. 61 Carlos Divar, while classmate Grayson Broadus led Andrew Li by a set, 7-5, 3-4. Both matches were abandoned with the team decision in hand.
Notre Dame advances to the ACC Championship semifinal match for the first time since the 2013-14 season, and are set to face No. 1 seed and top-ranked Wake Forest. The match will begin at 2 p.m. ET and will air on ACC Network Extra, with wraparound coverage of the other semifinal.
COACH Ryan Sachire SAYS
On playing Georgia Tech twice in one week...
"I told the guys coming into the match that this was going to be a very different match from last week because the circumstances are different, the facility is different, the court speed is different, the match-ups were different at five and six (singles). We approached it as a fresh match. I do think it helped that we came back after losing the doubles point last week to win five singles matches and I think that gave us confidence that we could flip it again and do well in singles and we did. Give Georgia Tech credit; they've had a tough season, but they're a good team and have a lot of good players. They're coming off of winning three straight matches since we beat them last week and they were much more confident today and played a really good match. We're definitely pleased to get through and I'm proud of our guys to really rise to the occasion when we needed them to."
On pulling out wins in tight sets...
"I think it's confidence, knowing what you want to do in big moments, knowing your game and having clarity on how you want to play. I thought our guys did a really good job in those critical moments. Just as critical was the end of the second set for (Lebedev) to tie it up at one-set-all and give the other guys that were out there trying to clinch the team match some confidence that even if they didn't get it done, that Leb was there to pick up the pieces, too. It was a total team effort."
On reaching the ACC semifinal for the first time since 2014...
"It's where we want to be. It was a goal of ours to get to the weekend and now we have an opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country in Wake Forest. It's a really cool moment and opportunity for our guys and we're going to attack it with great confidence."
SCOREBOARDNo. 4 Notre Dame 4, No. 12 Georgia Tech 1
ACC Championship Quarterfinal
April 27, 2018
Cary Tennis Park
1. No. 37 Alex Lebedev (ND) vs. No. 61 Carlos Divar (GT) 3-6, 6-4, unfinished
2. Richard Ciamarra (ND) def. Michael Kay (GT) 7-5, 6-2
3. Guillermo Cabrera (ND) def. Phillip Gresk (GT) 6-3, 6-1
4. Matt Gamble (ND) def. Elijah Melendez (GT) 7-6(3), 6-2
5. Tristan McCormick (ND) def. Chris Yun (GT) 6-4, 6-4
6. Grayson Broadus (ND) vs. Andrew Li (GT) 7-5, 3-4, unfinished
1. No. 55 Brendon Kempin / Tristan McCormick (ND) vs. No. 20 Carlos Divar / Michael Kay (GT) 4-4, unfinished
2. Chris Yun / Elijah Melendez (GT) def. Grayson Broadus / Richard Ciamarra (ND) 6-4
3. Phillip Gresk / Andrew Li (GT) def. Guillermo Cabrera / Alex Lebedev (ND) 6-2
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame men's tennis and fencing programs, in addition to assisting with football communications and overseeing production of the football Gameday Magazine. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master's degree from Georgetown University in 2013.