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Men’s Tennis: Bandy enters final season confident

By Greg Hadley | Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When the Irish played Louisville in the Big East Championship in April, senior Ryan Bandy was one of the key players who pushed the team to a 4-0 sweep over the Cardinals and to the conference crown. 

Bandy won his doubles match with former Irish player Spencer Talmadge and then came back to take his singles match as well. For the Cincinnati native, the Big East title was the culmination of a season that saw him turn the corner and start consistently for the Irish

Now, Bandy wants to continue that success and become a leader for the Irish on and off the court.

“I want to come out and work hard every day, that’s the most important thing,” Bandy said. “We have a great group of guys who have a chance to do something special, and I want to go out there and make the team better. Short term, I want to improve myself, but long term, you want to the team to go deep in the NCAA [Championship], in the ACC Tournament. It’s exciting.”

Bandy, however, wasn’t always a leader for Notre Dame. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, Bandy rarely played as one of the top six singles and was almost never included in the team’s doubles matches. 

It wasn’t until the spring of his junior year that Bandy became a consistent starter for both singles and doubles. Last season, Bandy compiled an 8-4 record in singles matches and an 11-8 record in doubles. 

Irish coach Ryan Sachire said the change in Bandy was mostly mental.

“He’s done an extraordinary job of developing his physical strength,” Sachire said of Bandy. “But, no question Ryan’s biggest development is in his self-belief and self-confidence. His freshman year, there were some doubts in his mind whether or not he could make an impact at this level. Something clicked last fall, and he really threw himself into it and that takes a lot of belief.”

Bandy agreed that the adjustment he made was mostly mental.

“The biggest thing was maintaining focus in matches,” Bandy said. “I worked on not letting a [lost] point here or there get to me and keeping calm on the court. As I did that, I matured as a player and that led to me making that jump.”

Sachire said he is looking to Bandy not only to play well, but also to pass on those lessons of maturity to the team’s younger players this season. 

“It’s not just that he has seniority,” Sachire said. “He’s had a lot of success on a high level. We want Ryan to continue to develop but also to be a mentor to the team in the locker room and show them what its mindset needs to be.”

Another lesson Bandy can share is success off the court. A three-time Big East Academic All-Star and a management consulting major, Bandy has also excelled in the classroom.

“It’s a matter of motivation and where you want to go,” Bandy said. “You have four years of college tennis, but then after that, what are you going to do? You need a good education, so now you have to be efficient and productive. Sometimes, you may not be able to do all the stuff you want to do, but you have to keep your priorities straight.”

Bandy’s sacrifices have paid off, as he will return to his hometown of Cincinnati to work in banking after he graduates. 

But for now, he said his focus remains on the upcoming season.

“We’d love for him to take another step and really lead the team,” Sachire said. “He’s playing the best tennis at the end of his career, and we’d love for him to keep progressing and make a big jump.”

The Irish kick off their fall schedule Friday at the Olympia Fields Country Club Invitational in Olympia Fields, Ill.  

Contact Greg Hadley at ghadley@nd.edu