Jan. 23, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team will face a weekend of highly competitive tennis beginning Saturday when the No. 14 Irish host the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
In fact, with all four teams competing ranked among the top 25 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the grouping has been dubbed the “highest rated and potentially most combative men’s pod,” by the ITA. The Irish host No. 16 Columbia, No. 17 Tennessee and No. 24 Oklahoma State. The top-seeded Irish will face fourth-seeded Oklahoma State at 2p.m. ET Saturday.
“We know it’s going to be a great weekend of tennis,” head coach Ryan Sachire said. “We know we’re going to have to play really well to win both matches, but really all we’re focused on is getting ready for Oklahoma State. They’re a great opponent and they’re really talented and we know it’s going to be a heck of a match.”
Notre Dame (1-0) is fresh off its first match of the season, a 4-3 win over then-No. 18 Kentucky. The Irish, who look at their doubles weapons as a strength with two combinations ranked in the top 10 to start the season, suffered a pair of losses at those spots but came back to secure four straight wins in singles.
It was a learning experience that Sachire hopes the Irish will improve upon as the season progresses.
“It was a great thing to go through and still be able to win on the road at a quality opponent,” Sachire said. “I think it’s a pretty common feeling within our program that we didn’t play our best match, so there’s a lot to build on but, at the same time, we have the confidence that we’re able to get through and win that match.”
The ITA Kick-Off Weekend serves as a qualifying round for the ITA Division I National Team Indoor Championships. This year’s tournament is hosted by No. 11 Illinois from February 13-16 at the Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago. By finishing among the top 15 in the ITA rankings last season (13th), the Irish qualified as a host school.
“It’s an honor,” Sachire said. “You look throughout the country and the teams who are hosting are all really good teams, so it’s company that we want to be a part of consistently moving forward, but we also know that nothing’s going to be given to us because we are hosting. We’re going to have to play great matches to beat any of the teams that are coming here this weekend.”
The action starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with Columbia and Tennessee facing off in the early match, while the Irish and Cowboys will follow at 2 p.m. A consolation match will take place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, followed by the championship match at 1 p.m.
To follow all the action, live scoring will be available at the links above. Live video streaming will be available at watchnd.tv. Follow the Irish on Twitter, @NDMensTennis and follow Notre Dame Men’s Tennis on Facebook for scores and updates throughout the weekend. For more information on the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, visit the event page for previews and event schedules throughout the country.
By Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant