May 13, 2018
By Joanne Norell
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team’s season came to an end Sunday, as the No. 25 Irish fell in another razor-thin decision to No. 15 Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Championship at the Varsity Tennis Center. Though the final score read 4-0, the match saw the doubles point come down to a tiebreaker and four of six singles matches reached three sets, with the Irish leading in three.
How It Happened
Doubles proved to be a competitive start to the match, with the point coming down to a tiebreaker on Court 3. Michigan’s Myles Schalet and Connor Johnston won first on Court 1, defeating No. 49 senior Brendon Kempin and freshman Tristan McCormick, while the Irish (19-14) responded on Court 2 as junior Alex Lebedev and freshman William Howells struck down No. 73 Runhao Hua and Mattias Siimar.
On Court 3, Notre Dame sophomore Matt Gamble and freshman Richard Ciamarra broke early on Harrison Brown and Alex Knight, but the Michigan duo responded in kind and the squads held to force a tiebreaker. There, the Wolverines pulled away in a 7-6(1) win to clinch the 1-0 team lead.
Singles was close from the start, taking over one hour to complete all six first sets. While the Irish had led by a break on four courts to start singles, Michigan countered and flipped two to take a set advantage at four positions.
The Wolverines (22-5) took a 2-0 lead when Davis Crocker defeated Howells 6-2, 6-4 on Court 6. Siimar followed, defeating Gamble 6-4, 6-3 on Court 4.
The remaining courts went to three sets, highlighted by Ciamarra’s rally from down 2-5 in the second to win 7-5 and force a third against Runhao Hua on Court 2. McCormick also flipped his match at the No. 5 spot, while Michigan extended their matches on Courts 1 and 3. Ciamarra, McCormick and Lebedev led in the third set in their respective matches, but Schalet clinched the match for the Wolverines, defeating sophomore Guillermo Cabrera 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Court 3.
The 34th-ranked Lebedev led No. 17 Knight 7-6(4), 1-6, 4-1 on Court 1, while Ciamarra owned a 6-7(4). 7-5, 3-2 lead over Hua on at No. 2. McCormick was up 30-0 in what would have been the deciding game against Carter Lin on Court 5, 5-7, 6-3, 5-4.
Coach Ryan Sachire Says
On the hard-fought nature of the match…
“I couldn’t be prouder of our guys. We battled; we fought. This is the kind of match we knew it would be. It was this way in South Bend a couple months ago (in a 4-3 Michigan win) and they took our best punch and found a way to get to four. Our guys fought their tails off, competed and threw everything that they have into it today and the entire year. We just happened to come up short by a point or two in what was a great college tennis match.”
Reflecting on the 2018 season…
“We did a lot of great things and made some huge steps this year. We were in (the Varsity Tennis Center) back in October for the regional championships and we had all but one player eliminated on the first day of singles, whereas Michigan had five or so guys in the quarterfinals. For the growth and development of this team and how the guys on this team have improved from that stage until now and all the accomplishments along the way, it’s hard to have perspective at this time, but I’m proud of what they did and how they represented Notre Dame.”
“I want to congratulate Michigan. They have four seniors and a junior in their lineup, and they’ve paid their dues and all of them are class individuals. Congratulations to their coaches and best of luck to them moving forward.”
No. 15 Michigan 4, No. 25 Notre Dame 0
May 13, 2018
Varsity Tennis Center
Ann Arbor, Mich.
1. No. 34 Alex Lebedev (ND) vs. No. 17 Alex Knight (UM) 7-6(4), 1-6, 4-1, unfinished
2. Richard Ciamarra (ND) vs. No. 47 Runhao Hua (UM) 6-7(4), 7-5, 3-2, unfinished
3. Myles Schalet (UM) def. Guillermo Cabrera (ND) 2-6, 7-5, 6-2
4. Mattias Siimar (UM) def. Matt Gamble (ND) 6-4, 6-3
5. Tristan McCormick (ND) vs. Carter Lin (UM) 5-7, 6-3, 5-4, unfinished
6. Davis Crocker (UM) def. William Howells (ND) 6-2, 6-4
1. Myles Schalet / Connor Johnston (UM) def. No. 49 Brendon Kempin / Tristan McCormick (ND) 6-2
2. William Howells / Alex Lebedev (ND) def. No. 73 Runhao Hua / Mattias Siimar (UM) 6-4
3. Alex Knight / Harrison Brown (UM) def. Richard Ciamarra / Matt Gamble (ND) 7-6(1)
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.