By Conner Farrell —
Men’s tennis opened their conference season March 3 in the midst of a five-match win streak. U of L hosted the three-time defending champions, Virginia Cavaliers.
“They’ve been the marquee program in our sport almost for a decade, they’ve probably spent more time at No. 1 than any program in the country for the last eight years,” coach Rex Ecarma said.
Aware of the competition they were about to face, the team was locked in from the start.
To kick off the match, U of L was able to battle tooth and nail to obtain the vaunted doubles point, crucial for any match against a top opponent. The Cards swept all the double’s matches 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), and a win by the No. 18 doubles team of Chris Morin-Kougoucheff and Parker Wynn 7-5.
“We’ve got a script that we run in doubles, we just stay with the script and wait for our opportunity to put it away,” Ecarma said.
With that point in the bag, the team shifted to single’s play, where they only dropped one match of six to put the Cavaliers away with a dominating 6-1 victory.
“It’s a great victory in a sense that you have to mentally overcome who they are and the program that they are, it’s not just a physical battle but also a mental battle that you can believe to beat a program that dominate,” Ecarma said.
Now that the men’s team has won their inaugural ACC match of the season, the road doesn’t look any easier.
The ACC schedule features five matches against ranked teams, including the team’s first ACC road match on March 10 against Notre Dame, who is currently ranked No. 21.
“They’re hot, if we can have the good fortune of stealing a win over there in South Bend it’ll take an unbelievable effort,” Ecarma said.
The other ranked ACC foes on the schedule include Wake Forest, North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and North Carolina State.
Of the top 25 opponents on the conference slate only two of them will be played at home including a date with current No. 1 Wake Forest on April 13.
“We have several ACC matches at home, it’s like you can turn the corner and say, ‘Well they’re coming to our house’ and it’s where we feel really good,” Ecarma said.
With 11 matches left on the ACC season, the Cards are poised to continue their six match winning streak and solid play before the postseason begins on April 25.
You can follow Conner Farrell on Twitter @ConnerFarrell9.
Photo by Taris Smith / The Louisville Cardinal