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Clemson men’s tennis falls to Louisville and Notre Dame

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Clemson tennis stock

Heading into this past weekend, Clemson men’s tennis was (6-3) this season. However, an (0-2) road trip on the road against Louisville and Notre Dame set the Tigers back in their season progression. 

The Tigers traveled to Louisville Friday, March 4, to take on the Cardinals in their 12th all-time meeting.  

In match one of doubles, Clemson’s Teodor Giusca and Ryuhei Azuma faced the Cardinals’ Natan Rodrigues and Matthew Fung. Giusca and Azuma trailed until 3-3, when they harnessed momentum and ultimately took the set 6-4. 

In match two of doubles, Clemson’s Spencer Whitaker and Maxwell Smith faced Louisville’s Alex Wesbrooks and Etienne Donnet. Similar to match one of doubles, Whitaker and Smith went back and forth with Wesbrooks and Donnet, until 4-3.  

At 4-3, Whitaker and Smith took the momentum, effectively winning the match and clinching the first point of the game for the Tigers.  

In match two of singles, Azuma of the Tigers battled for the first set, 7-5. Azuma won the second set with relative ease, 6-4. 

Meanwhile, in matches four, five and six, Clemson’s Jorge Plans Gonzalez, Matt Pitts and Smith lost their matches in straight sets.  

In match three, Clemson’s Spencer Whitaker faced the Cardinal’s Tin Chen. Whitaker clinched the first set with ease, but was unable to keep up the momentum. Chen found his form and took the next two sets decisively, clinching the tie for Louisville.  

With a commendable effort, but an ultimate loss to Louisville, the Tigers looked ahead for their matchup against Notre Dame. 

On Sunday, March 6, Clemson faced Notre Dame for the ninth time in program history.  

Azuma and Giusca led doubles for the Tigers, where they faced Matthew Che and Axel Nefve of Notre Dame. Notre Dame got off to an early lead. The Fighting Irish led the match 4-1, when Giusca and Azuma started gaining some momentum, hitting superb return winners and applying pressure at the net. However, Che and Nefve held their serve and play consistently, winning the match 6-3. 

Notre Dame secured the second doubles match, when the Tigers’ Daniel Labrador and Matt Pitts faced the Fighting Irish’s Jean-Marc Malkowski and Connor Fu. Malkowski and Fu went up on an early break in the match, leading 5-2, but the Tigers won the next two games. However, Labrador and Pitts were unable to hold serve and level the match, ultimately falling 6-4.  

With the doubles victory, Notre Dame led 1-0 heading into the singles matches.  

Ryuhei Azuma led the Tigers in singles on Sunday. Azuma faced Notre Dame’s Axel Nefve. Nefve went on the attack in the first set, but Azuma played excellent defense and looked for opportunities to go on offense himself. Azuma saved a set point on his serve, but ultimately lost the set 7-5. Nefve took the momentum from winning the first set and won the second set with ease, 6-2. 

In matches four and five, Clemson’s Matt Pitts and Labrador both lost in straight sets. 

Meanwhile, in match six of singles, Smith played an impressive match for the Tigers, winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 against Notre Dame’s Brian Bilsey. 

Notre Dame won the tie over the Tigers 4-1. 

The Tigers play at home next Saturday, March 12, where they will play a doubleheader versus UNCW and The Citadel at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.  

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