Oct. 18, 2017
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The University of Notre Dame men's tennis team will return to the court this weekend as the Irish compete at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships at Michigan's Varsity Tennis Center.
WHAT: ITA Midwest Regional Championships
WHERE: Varsity Tennis Center | Ann Arbor, Mich.
WHEN: Oct. 19-23, 2017
TEAMS: Chicago State, Cleveland State, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, Illinois-Chicago, Illinois, Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Toledo, Valparaiso, Western Michigan, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin, Youngstown State
ITA Midwest Regional Championships
The ITA Midwest Regional Championships will kick off Thursday with two rounds of singles qualifying before the main draws of both doubles and singles begin on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Four Irish players -- Nathan Griffin, William Howells, Paul Gota and Drew Dawson -- will compete in Thursday's qualifying action. The tournament will run through Monday, Oct. 23, with the winners of both main draws receiving automatic bids to the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships.
Grand Slam Streak
Senior Alex Lebedev's appearance in the singles main draw at this fall's Saint Francis Health System All-American Championships marked the 14th consecutive ITA grand slam event in which the Irish have had at least one student-athlete compete in the main draw. Lebedev advanced to the Round of 16, marking the best performance by a Notre Dame player since Brett Helgeson advanced to the Round of 16 in 2009.
ITA grand slam events include the All-American Championships, the National Indoor Championships (now the National Fall Championships) and the NCAA individual tournaments. The streak began with the 2013 NCAA Singles Championship when then-junior and current Irish assistant Greg Andrews advanced to the second round.
The Oracle/ITA preseason rankings were released Sept. 12, with senior Brendon Kempin and junior Grayson Broadus ranked No. 38 in the doubles rankings and junior Alex Lebedev coming in at No. 104 in singles.
Meet The Freshmen
The Irish welcomed four freshman at the start of the fall semester -- Richard Ciamarra, Paul Gota, William Howells and Tristan McCormick -- and they're off to a fast start so far this fall. With a 14-6 combined singles record as a class, the Irish freshmen lead the rest of the team in winning percentage (.700 freshmen vs. .527 rest of team). Howells is undefeated at 4-0, while McCormick (5-1) and Ciamarra (3-1) each have just one loss.
The quartet made up the No. 7 recruiting class in the country, according to the Tennis Recruiting Network, with Ciamarra and Howells rated as blue-chip prospects, McCormick as a five-star pick-up and Gota as a four-star talent.
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, women's tennis and fencing programs, in addition to 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.