Nov. 25, 2013
By Victor Diaz `15
Notre Dame’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference has been big news over the past couple of years. Countless articles have been published on the effects that the move will have on Notre Dame’s football and basketball teams.
But many fail to realize how exciting this move is for other Notre Dame athletes who don’t play in Notre Dame Stadium or Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame’s men’s tennis is one of these teams that are particularly excited about the move, and for senior Ryan Bandy, conference play couldn’t start sooner.
“We’re looking forward to it. We’re excited,” Bandy says. “The competition level is higher in the ACC than the BIG EAST. As a team, we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing in the ACC and what that will bring. We’re all excited to travel to some of the best tennis schools in the country and have them come at home and play them.”
However, the prestige that comes with playing the best has its price. With heightened competition, wins will be harder to come by, and Bandy and his teammates will have to work harder than ever.
“We’ve been really emphasizing each day just to get better and improve,” he says. “We know by the time our schedule hits in mid-spring and we start playing that ACC schedule, every match is going to be tough and we’re going to have to play great to compete with those teams.”
Despite the challenge, Bandy is enthusiastically embracing the opportunity. He is confident that his team has what it takes to make its mark immediately in the new conference and raved about how well the team is coming together.
Bandy’s confidence is not misplaced. Notre Dame has put together an impressive offseason thus far this fall, and Bandy, who had a breakout junior campaign, has been finding individual success during tournament play.
“The off-season’s been overall really successful for the team as a whole. I think in these tournaments we’ve had a lot of great competition,” Bandy says. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities individually to play some great players in the NCAA, and I’ve had some pretty good success in the majority of the tournaments I’ve played in.
“I’ve been kind of just building as I go along after each tournament, and trying to take away what I’ve learned at each tournament, and use that in practice to improve as I go forward in the season.”
Bandy, who was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school, reaching as high as No. 67 nationally on tennisrecruiting.net and regarded as the No. 3 prospect in the state of Ohio, is preparing himself for an expanded role this year in the wake of last year’s breakout season.
“Personally I feel like this year I’ve made a jump in my game,” he says. “Last year was a big step for me in terms of making that initial jump into the lineup and being relatively successful low in the lineup for us.
“This year I’ve really tried to develop my game in a way that’ll be able to help us out at a higher level this year as we move into the ACC. I’ve just been really using my experiences during the offseason as a learning kit to try and improve my game as I move forward.”
While the Notre Dame men’s tennis team begins a new chapter with the ACC, Bandy will also begin a new chapter of his life in just a few months. With graduation looming just around the corner, Bandy, a management and consulting major in the Mendoza College of Business, plans to return back home to Cincinnati to work at PNC National Bank.
“I interviewed with a few different places, but I think that was the only bank that I agreed with,” he says. “I somehow got a job with them this summer, and I was working with them down at West Palm Beach, which was a pretty fun experience. Now I’ll have an opportunity to work with the same company back in Cincinnati, so I’m really excited about that.”
Even in a familiar place like home, taking the next step can be daunting. But Bandy, much like he’s handling the move to the ACC, is taking it all in stride and looking forward to the challenges which life will throw at him over the next few years.
“I’m really excited to start a new stage in my life,” Bandy says. “I’m really excited to get going with my career. That’s why I went to college. I knew that one day I wouldn’t be playing tennis anymore and that I had to prepare myself for my career and life, but it’s going to be brutal.
“I’m definitely going to miss all the good times. These were the best four years of my life, but all I can really look back on is fond memories with good friends and some of the greatest people.”
It’s always hard to leave a place like Notre Dame, but Bandy believes that his experiences on and off the court have fully prepared him for the “next level.”
“I think that growing up and playing tennis, and then competing at a high level in college will definitely continue to help me in all aspects of my life,” he says. “It’s taught me patience and hard work ethic, how to work hard towards something that you really want to achieve, and I think that will always be something that’s ingrained in me.”