By Dalton Ray–
Coach Rex Ecarma’s team flipped their 14-16 (1-11) record in 2016 to a 20-8 (6-6) this season. Men’s tennis has now reached 20 wins in three of the last four seasons. The seven-seed Cardinals will take on 10-seed Notre Dame in the ACC conference tournament on April 27 at 10 a.m.
Ecarma said the match-up with Notre Dame will be worth the price of admission.
“If playing in the ACC Championship isn’t fun enough, playing the Fighting Irish really makes it exciting. We had a great match this year which we won on the final court and a rich history of memorable moments on both sides,” Ecarma said.
U of L defeated the Irish in a thrilling 4-3 match in March. With the added intensity of being sent home, the rematch will create an ardent atmosphere for both teams.
“Because we won the match 4-3, it’s going to be a high-pressure situation because (Notre Dame) will be coming to the match hungry. It’s going to be a fun match,” senior Sean Donohue said. “I think we’re the better team and I think we’re going to go out and prove it.”
Freshman star Parker Wynn has a program record for singles wins by a freshman with 39. He is three wins away from tying Sebastian Stiefelmeyer’s most overall wins in a season. Wynn says he is up for the challenge of the tournament.
“I’m expecting some high-level tennis, high intensity, a lot of nerves. With all that combined, I just can’t wait to get out on the court and experience that,” Wynn said. “You have the best conference in the country, some of the best teams and players, I’m just really excited.”
Wynn isn’t just a stud in singles, he is half of the nation’s No. 31 doubles team with Donohue. The tandem has 23-7 record and is the fifth highest ranked duo in the ACC. Donohue and Wynn will be taking on Notre Dame’s No. 32 Josh Hagar and Eddy Covalschi.
Sophomores George Headley and Brandon Lancaster have mainly played on courts four and five, combining for a 26-11 record on the two courts. Headley was the hero in the first match against the Irish, coming back from a 5-3 deficit and clinching the match.
The Cardinals have played ranked opponents in the three of their last five matches, setting the tone for the conference tournament.
“It helps playing our hardest part of out schedule on the tail end. That way we can see the highest level of tennis we need to play in order to compete in the ACCs,” Lancaster said.
If the Cardinals get past Notre Dame, they will face two-seed Virginia on April 28. The nation’s No. 3 team defeated Louisville 7-0 in February.
Photo by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal