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Men’s Tennis: Andrews represents Irish at indoor championships

Aaron Sant-Miller | Thursday, November 7, 2013

As one of only 32 players in the country to qualify for the tournament, Irish senior Greg Andrews begins play today in the National Indoor Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“I think his mentality is where it needs to be,” Irish coach Ryan Sachire said. “He’s confident in himself and he knows he’s playing really strong tennis. By the same token, he knows that the entire field here is really good. I think he knows that if he goes out and plays well, doing the things he’s capable of doing, he’s going to have a great chance to win it at the end of the day.”

In a tournament that attracts only the elite collegiate tennis players, Andrews is the first Irish player to qualify since Brett Helgeson, who graduated four years ago.

In the preseason ITA Division I Men’s Singles rankings, Andrews checked in at No. 31. The rankings were released in September, prior to Andrews reaching the finals in both singles and doubles at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships in October.

“This is one of those tournaments where there are no guaranteed winners,” Sachire said. “Every match you play comes down to how well each player executes. It simplifies things, a little bit, when it’s like that, because you only have to focus on your tennis and not concern yourself with wins and losses.”

For Andrews, the road begins against the No. 4 seed, Georgia sophomore Austin Smith. As a freshman, Smith won 24 of his 34 singles matches. This fall, Smith reached the quarterfinals of the ITA All-American Championships, before falling to Vanderbilt junior Gonzales Austin. Andrews competed in the same tournament, winning in the first round before falling in the second round to Oklahoma junior Dane Webb.

“[Smith] is a really good player, obviously,” Sachire said. “He’s had a very good season thus far and actually plays very similar to Greg. Both players have really strong weapons in their forehands and in their first serves. Again, they are very evenly matched; they are both good athletes. It’s a match Greg feels like he can win if he plays well. He also really respects [Smith] and knows he has to execute his best.”

For Andrews, Sachire explained, employing a similar game plan to that which he implemented in the Regional Championships will help him find success.

“I think it begins and ends with Greg’s focus,” Sachire said. “When he focuses on serving aggressively, using his first serve as a weapon, looking to move forward when he gets short balls and having the confidence at the net to execute his volleys, he’s really tough to beat. That was sort of the vanilla game plan for him at Regionals and I think it worked out really well. I think if he can create that same mentality and make his strengths show, he’s got a chance to make a nice run here.”

Andrews will look to do just that today. The USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships take place all day in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu