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Men’s Tennis: Irish to start ITA All-American Championships

Aaron Sant-Miller | Friday, September 27, 2013

Beginning this weekend and continuing through the end of next week, four Notre Dame players will compete in the ITA All-American Championships.
On Saturday and Sunday, the athletes will compete in a series of prequalifying matches. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the ITA All-American Championships will continue with the qualifying events. Starting next Thursday, the top performers and top-ranked players will compete in the main event, which will conclude Oct. 6.
“It’s a pretty unique tournament,” Irish coach Ryan Sachire said. “I make the analogy that it’s like the US Open for golf, where virtually anybody can play and anybody can win it.”
On Saturday, sophomore Eric Schnurrenburger and senior Ryan Bandy will compete in the prequalifying round. If they win all four weekend events, they will advance to the qualifying round, where sophomore Quentin Monaghan, who placed into the qualifying round due to his top-100 national ranking, would join them.
The winners of the three qualifying rounds will join senior Greg Andrews on Thursday in the main event with a shot at winning it all. Andrews was able to place into the main event due to his No. 31 national ranking.
“This isn’t really a team event; it’s purely individual-based,” Sachire said. “Each guy goes in and plays his own tournament. Realistically, the better our individual players do, the better our team is going to be, as it gives our players confidence and makes them better.”
Sachire said there are specific things the coaching staff is looking for out of these four players.
“In this case, we’re looking for consistency of performance,” he said. “All of them have shown, throughout their careers, the ability to win big matches and beat some of the best players in the country. Our season is a marathon; it’s not a sprint. Honestly, more than anything, we want them to continue their development and continue to improve on their consistency.”
Though their season officially kicked off Sept. 13, Notre Dame continues to make changes to its staff. On Wednesday, the team announced the addition of volunteer assistant coach Cris James to the coaching staff. The former Illinois State head coach earned recognition as the Missouri Valley Coach of the Year in 2010 after leading the Redbirds to the regular-season conference championship.
“The thought and logic behind the move is pretty simple,” Sachire said. “[James] is one of the best coaches in the country. He is a coach that I’ve always had a great relationship with personally, and I think the world of him professionally. His role for us will be just like mine and that of [assistant coach Adam Schaechterle]: he’s a coach.”
For Sachire, the move not only brings in a talented coach but also one who can complement those already on staff and help the team achieve its goals.
“My mindset in assembling our staff is to bring in the best coaches possible,” Sachire said. “There isn’t a whole lot of ego in our room as far as title or anything like that. We all respect each other and have the same goal in mind, which is to elevate our program and one day win a national championship.
“Certainly, we believe in each other, we feel like we can help each other and we believe each of us adds elements to the program that help us get there.”
The prequalifying round of the ITA All-American Championships will begin Saturday and continue through Oct. 6 in Tulsa, Okla.
Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu