Irish welcome Wildcats to Eck for rematch
Greg Hadley | Thursday, January 30, 2014
Eight days after upsetting No. 13 Kentucky on the road, No. 22 Notre Dame will have a chance to take down the Wildcats again on Sunday, this time in the friendly confines of Eck Tennis Pavilion.
The Irish (5-0) handed the Wildcats (5-1) their first loss of the season Saturday in a thrilling, back-and-forth battle that Notre Dame won at the wire, 4-3. Irish coach Ryan Sachire said he anticipates another close match as both teams adjust their lineups.
“It’s a different venue,” Sachire said. “It’s a different week. We know that there will be different individual matchups. Really, the only thing we can take from last week is that we know they’re a great team and it’s going to be a great battle.”
Still, Sachire said he is confident that his team will match up well with the Wildcats, especially as they return home. The contest is Notre Dame’s only home match for three weeks and the Irish are eager to hit the road on a high note, Sachire said.
“[Eck Pavilion] is our home,” Sachire said. “We love this place. Especially recently, our players have really bought into the idea of protecting the Eck. We excited to come back after beating them at their place and try to beat them here.”
Freshman Eddy Covalschi was key to the last Irish victory, pulling out the decisive match for the win and earning ACC Tennis player of the week honors. Sachire said Covalschi will be just as important this weekend, but he also is comfortable with any of his players in a high-pressure situation.
“We’ve talked to our guys all year about opportunities for success and Eddy did a great job of stepping up and managing that situation,” Sachire said. “We’re confident that he can play at that level if he has that opportunity. And that can be said for any of the rest of our guys as well. [Against Minnesota], it was [junior] Wyatt McCoy that filled that role, so we’re very confident in our players.”
With that level of depth, Sachire said he will wait until Sunday to set his lineup, but plans to make some changes to counter Kentucky’s moves.
Senior Greg Andrews, Notre Dame’s top player, has struggled as of late. The No. 22 singles player in the country suffered two straight losses in singles to Minnesota junior Leandro Toledo and Kentucky senior Tom Jomby, but has paired with sophomore Alex Lawson to climb to No. 21 nationally in doubles.
Behind Andrews and Lawson, the Irish are off to their best start in over a decade, but Sachire said the team is tempering its excitement and looking down the road.
“We’re confident that we’re capable of being a pretty good team, but we realize that this is still January,” Sachire said. “It’s a long year. This is marathon and we’re only at mile four. So, we’re taking this all in stride. We’re obviously excited to be playing well at the moment, but we knew coming in to the year that we had a good team. We’re on the right track, but there’s still a lot of work left to be done.”
The Irish return to the Eck Tennis Pavilion to square off against Kentucky for the second time in as many weeks at 2 p.m. Sunday.