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Men’s Tennis: Team splits for two tournaments to start season

Aaron Sant-Miller | Friday, September 13, 2013

This weekend, the Irish will split their squad and open their season at the OFCC Invitational in Olympia Fields, Ill., and the Vredevelt Invitational in Kalamazoo, Mich

“We’re looking at it from a more holistic perspective – all 14 guys are going to compete this weekend,” Irish coach Ryan Sachire said. “We have 14 guys on our team and, as of this moment, all 14 are starters in our mind.”

Despite the atypical structure to the weekend, the division of players was not without logic, Sachire said.

“We tried to line it up a bit with their surface preference, and we wanted to make sure the guys who are going to play on the clay later this fall were on the clay this weekend too,” Sachire said. “It wasn’t entirely based on level. [Returning starter and senior] Ryan Bandy is going to the [Vredevelt Invitational], which may be looked at as a lesser event, but we certainly don’t see it that way.”

With the team spread over two tournaments, the Irish coaching staff was forced to split as well. Sachire will attend the Olympia Fields Country Club event, while assistant coach Adam Schaechterle will lead Notre Dame at the Vredevelt, hosted by Western Michigan.

“Honestly, I went to Western Michigan last year and hadn’t been to Olympia Fields in a couple years, so [the decision to go to Olympia Fields] was partially based on being at a different event,” Sachire said. “Also, there is a little bit more political work to do at Olympia Fields. Our players stay with families in housing. It’s a very nice country club and there is a banquet dinner. I think it’s important for the head coach to be at that event, whereas Western Michigan is more of a straightforward tennis tournament.”

This weekend will also be the first time the Irish compete under Sachire as the team’s head coach. According to Sachire, the spotlight should remain on his players and not turn toward him and his debut.

“I’ve been involved in this program pretty deeply for a long time. I don’t view [the weekend] as anything about me,” Sachire said. “This is about our guys; it’s about them doing the things necessary on the court and setting that stage for a successful season.”

Though the entire team will not start the season at the same place, the emphasis on beginning strong as a team remains, Sachire said.

“Obviously, this is the first tournament of the year for us and we’re just excited to compete and do the things our guys have been training to do,” Sachire said. “It’s a chance to compete against some great competition in both events, build on what we want our team to be during the year and do the things we think will put us in a position to succeed, not only this weekend, but for the rest of the year as well.”

The Irish travel to Olympia Fields, Ill., for the OFCC Invitational and Kalamazoo, Mich., for the Vredevelt Invitational. The tournaments will be played Friday through Sunday.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu