Jan. 26, 2017
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team will face elite competition as the Irish return to action this weekend, facing No. 7 North Carolina on Friday and either Penn State or Vanderbilt on Saturday during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
WHAT: ITA Kick-Off Weekend
WHO: Notre Dame (1-1) vs. No. 7 North Carolina (5-0)
WHERE: Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center | Chapel Hill, N.C.
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. ET Friday
RESULTS: Live Stats
ITA Kick-Off Weekend Watch
For the fourth straight year, the Irish will take part in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. They will travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to take on No. 7 North Carolina in a non-conference matchup in the first round. On the other side of the pod is Penn State (0-0) and Vanderbilt (5-1). The winner of the four-team tournament will receive an invitation to compete at the ITA National Indoor Team Championship, held February 17-20 at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On The Tar Heels
North Carolina enters the weekend undefeated at 5-0, not having surrendered a point yet this season. After wins over Tennessee-Chattanooga and the Citadel last Sunday, the Tar Heels jumped two spots to No. 7 in this week’s Oracle/ITA Division I Men’s Tennis Rankings, but Notre Dame will be their first major conference opponent of the season. North Carolina boasts two ranked singles players in No. 38 Ronnie Schneider and No. 57 Joshua Peck and a ranked doubles squad in No. 43 Schneider and Jack Murray. The Irish are 9-12 all-time against North Carolina, but defeated the No. 1 Tar Heels 5-2 last season in one of the biggest upsets by ranking in ITA history.
Last Time Out
The Irish split their opening two matches last weekend, defeating Ball State 7-0 at home on Friday and falling to No. 15 Kentucky 5-2 on Sunday in Lexington. Notre Dame’s top two doubles teams — seniors Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi at No. 1, and sophomore Alex Lebedev and freshman Matt Gamble at No. 2 — are each undefeated in two matches. Gamble is also 2-0 in singles.
The Irish boast three players in the Oracle/ITA Division I Men’s Tennis Rankings. Seniors Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi rank 10th in the national doubles rankings, having gone 12-3 on the season, including 2-0 in dual play this spring. Hagar ranks 27th in the singles poll after the best fall season of his career where he went 9-4 and advanced to the main draw of the ITA All-American Championships, and he is 1-1 at the top of the Irish lineup. Sophomore Alex Lebedev is also ranked in singles, coming in at No. 119.
Keeping Up With The Irish
Live scoring will be available for all home tennis matches at UND.com, with links for each match available on the men’s tennis schedule page. Live match updates will also be shared on the team’s Twitter account, @NDMensTennis.
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 women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication, and earned her master's degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.