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Men’s Tennis: Irish put losses out of sight, out of mind

Andrew Owens | Friday, March 4, 2011

After suffering losses in their final two matches of the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic last weekend, the Irish (8-6) have their eyes set on defeating two talented opponents this weekend and putting the losses behind them.

On Friday evening, No. 24 Notre Dame will host No. 18 Texas A&M, as the string of ranked opponents the Irish have faced continues.

“Texas A&M was a preseason top-10 team and is in the top-20 now,” Irish associate head coach Ryan Sachire said. “Their talent level is clearly one of the highest in the country and we know they will be a great opponent.

Much of the Aggies’ success is due to No. 1 singles player and senior Austin Krajicek. He anchors a talented squad that is successful in a very talented region of the country for tennis. Krajicek even competed in the 2008 U.S. Open.

“Austin is an excellent player,” Sachire said.

The Irish will have Saturday off before facing No. 60 Northwestern at the Eck Tennis Pavilion Sunday afternoon. Despite his team not being as highly ranked as the Aggies, Sachire noted that the Irish cannot afford to overlook the Wildcats.

“Northwestern might be ranked a bit lower than they should be for their talent level,” he said. “We know both matches will be very good.”

Sachire said the level of competition the Irish have faced would only help them as the season progresses. Notre Dame has faced No. 1 Virginia, No. 4 Illinois, No. 8 Michigan and No. 9 Duke.

“College tennis is really competitive, especially this year,” Sachire said. “There are 40 to 50 teams that can all beat each other. The difference is we’ve played four top-10 opponents on our schedule, which is one of the best in the country.”

Even though the Irish have had some tough losses to talented teams, they are certainly a team that any opponent should be concerned about playing.

“For our guys 90 percent of what we have been doing puts us in a position to win,” Sachire said. “We just have to continue to put ourselves in the right position and take the next step and win some of these matches.”

The Irish welcome Texas A&M to campus at 6 p.m. Friday, with the Wildcats capping off the weekend Sunday at 4 p.m.