Season Recap: Contributions from top to bottom carry Notre Dame
Renee Griffin | Friday, May 16, 2014
The Irish finished the regular season at No. 14 in NCAA rankings and fourth in the ACC standings, boasting an overall record of 21-9 (7-4 ACC).
Irish coach Ryan Sachire said he was pleased with the season overall, especially considering the potential growing pains from transferring into the ACC and having few seniors on the team.
“We had a good year,” Sachire said. “It was certainly a transition year, being the first year in the ACC for us, and there was a lot that we learned. We had a lot of younger guys, so it was also kind of a transition from a veteran team we had last year to a younger team this year.”
The team faced a challenging schedule in which it played 12 teams currently ranked in the nation’s top 30.
“The schedule this year was really tough; obviously it prepares a team in that every day is important, and every match is a big match,” Sachire said. “The motivation that you get from always having a big match around the corner makes you practice really hard.”
Notre Dame got its first taste of upsetting a highly-ranked opponent against Kentucky in January, when it took down the then-No.8 Wildcats, 4-3.
“The first time we beat Kentucky at their place was huge,” Sachire said. “That was our first win over a top-10 opponent, and it let us in to the [ITA National Indoor Championships]. It gave our guys the idea that they can win against teams like that on a regular basis and that really spring-boarded us into having the season that we had.”
Sophomore Quentin Monaghan said he attributes many of the victories the Irish had this season to the mindset the team was able to establish.
“I think the team just realized what it took to be successful,” Monaghan said. “Every practice, you could see people working hard and committing to the process. Sticking to what it takes to be good, regardless of the failures or obstacles, shows a lot of character, which is something we have had all year as a group.”
Sachire highlighted several players who he believed stepped up this season, pointing specifically to freshmen Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar and senior Ryan Bandy.
“You never know how freshmen are going to respond to a college environment, and both of our two freshmen did an amazing job stepping up and acclimating to the level of college play and succeeding,” Sachire said. “Then as a senior, [Bandy] elevated himself from playing [as a No. 6] last year to now playing as a No. 2 in the NCAA tournament. It really shows how hard he’s worked and how dedicated he’s been.”
Senior Greg Andrews achieved a ranking of No. 24 nationally in singles, and the pair of Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson reached a ranking of No. 18 nationally in doubles.
Andrews served as team captain and was vital to the team dynamic, Monaghan said.
“I really think our captain, Greg Andrews, has done a phenomenal job as a leader,” Monaghan said. “He leads by example better than anyone I know, and he continued to become more vocal when we needed him to be.”
Despite the graduation of Andrews and Notre Dame’s other seniors, Sachire said he looks forward to next season and the continuation of the team’s improvement process.
“Graduation happens every year, and the cool thing about college is that there’s always someone to fill the roles,” Sachire said. “We’re confident in the players we have and the freshmen we’ve got coming in, and even though the makeup of the team will be different next year, I’m sure we’ll be successful again.”