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Men’s Tennis: Top competition awaits team

Walker Carey | Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Irish will return to action Thursday for the first time since Sept. 25 when they compete in the Midwest Singles/Doubles Championships at Ohio State.

Before the tournament, the top 56 players in the midwest are placed in the main draw. The final eight spots in the draw are determined through the qualifying round that will take place Thursday.

The Irish lead the field with nine players in the main draw, including seniors Niall Fitzgerald, Sam Keeton and Casey Watt.

The Irish also have three players who will be competing for the eight qualifying spots, junior Spencer Talmadge and freshmen Doug Barnard and Michael Fredericka.

Irish associate head coach Ryan Sachire said the tournament will feature tough competition, but he is confident the Irish will be able to compete at a high level.

“If I had to describe the level of competition in one word, it would be ‘fierce'” Sachire said. “Ohio State has eight very good players in the main draw. Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State have several tough players in [the main draw]. It will definitely be a competitive weekend and that is exciting for everybody.

The Irish had success in the event last year when six Irish players advanced to the round of 16. Sachire does not believe that it is unfair to expect the same this year.

“I think we should have at least as many [in the round of 16] this year,” Sachire said. “It does depend on the draws that some of our guys will get, but that many or more is definitely a realistic expectation.”

Sachire said he is also excited with the progress his squad has made since they last competed.

“We have been able to accomplish a lot since we last played,” Sachire said. “At first, we focused on reinforcing some fundamentals, such as utilizing our serves to set up our offense and some general volley work. The guys have done a great job making sure they have their technique down.

Over the past week, we have gone back to competing and thinking about how we are going to play [this weekend]. The break has been very beneficial to us.”

Despite the staunch competition this weekend, the Irish hope to come away with a victory at the Midwest Singles/Doubles Championships in Columbus, starting Thursday.

Contact Walker Carey at wcarey@nd.edu