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Men’s Tennis

Notre Dame opens Big Ten stretch against Wildcats

| Thursday, January 29, 2015

After splitting a pair of matches in the ITA-Kickoff Weekend, the No. 14 Irish continues its home stand this evening against Northwestern.

The Irish (2-1) opened last weekend by beating No. 24 Oklahoma State, 4-3, which put them in the championship match against No. 13 Columbia. Despite winning the doubles point against the Lions (2-0), the Irish eventually lost 4-2.

Irish sophomore Eddy Covalschi follows through on a shot during Notre Dame’s 4-3 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish sophomore Eddy Covalschi follows through on a shot during Notre Dame’s 4-3 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday.

“We were really proud of the effort our guys gave over the weekend,” said Irish coach Ryan Sachire. “It’s nice that this is a little bit of a quick turnaround Sunday to Friday. The mindset has kind of been to get our legs back underneath us and make sure we’re fresh and healthy going into tomorrow night.

“At the same time, we’ve gotten to address some of the individual needs in our guys’ games that they maybe struggled with last weekend and have tried to cover those weaknesses up heading into tomorrow night.”

Though the Irish have only played three matches so far this season, this will be the first time they will play following a loss.

“Certainly you want to see a team that is determined and hungry not to see the same fate that we saw on Sunday,” said Sachire. “The energy has been good in practice. The attitude has been good. The effort has been good. So I have every reason to feel very confident that we will play a great match tomorrow night. The biggest thing for us is being the most competitive team in the building.”

The match against the Wildcats (2-2) is the first of several upcoming contests against Big Ten teams for Notre Dame. After playing the Wildcats on Friday, the Irish will host Illinois on Monday and will also take on Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State in February.

“Obviously, we’re very fortunate that there are a number of top-30 schools and programs that are within driving distance of our campus,” Sachire said. “We typically play all of those [Big Ten] teams during our non-conference schedule just due to the proximity of the campuses.”

Like the Irish, the Wildcats played at an ITA-Kickoff Weekend event this past weekend. Northwestern defeated Arkansas on Saturday 4-2, which set up a Sunday match with host No. 2 Oklahoma, where the Wildcats fell 4-1.

The match against Northwestern continues a series of home contests for Notre Dame that started last weekend and will continue through Feb. 8.

“The scheduling just worked out that way, but we’re going to take advantage of it,” Sachire said. “We love playing in our building. We love playing at home. We feel like we have a strong home court advantage here and there is something to be said for keeping your guys in a familiar and comfortable environment. We’ll be able to sleep well, rest well, be healthy and hopefully play our best tennis.”

Notre Dame is set to take on Northwestern at 5:30 p.m., at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

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