Irish, Illinois set for rematch
Joe Everett | Thursday, February 4, 2016
The Irish continue to grind through their grueling early season schedule this weekend looking for revenge when they take on 12th-ranked Illinois this Friday at the Atkins Tennis Center in Champaign, Illinois.
This will mark the second time Notre Dame (2-3) and Illinois (4-1) have played each other this year, as the Illini downed the Irish, 4-0, in the opening round of the ITA Kickoff Weekend on Jan. 22. The Irish struggled across the board that day, as Notre Dame’s top doubles pair of seniors Alex Lawson and Quentin Monaghan, ranked sixth nationally, defeated Illinois’ pairing of senior Jared Hiltzik and redshirt junior Alex Jesse, 7-5.
This time, however, Irish head coach Ryan Sachire’s squad looks to turn the tables on the Illini and bring a halt to its current three-match losing streak.
With his team again playing on the road and facing top-10 competition, Sachire emphasized the Irish need to look past last time these two teams played going into this matchup.
“Look, it’s about recognizing that we are going to play a really good team, but also having the mindset that we’re going to win,” Sachire said. “It’s about seeing the opportunity for what it’s worth and going after it.”
The Irish have hit a bit of a rough patch in the season, riding a three-match losing streak. However, all three were played away from Eck Tennis Pavilion and against then top-25 competition — Illinois, No. 24 Tulsa and No. 25 Northwestern. With this in mind, Sachire said he still has supreme confidence in his team and believes the Irish can compete with anybody at their best.
“When you look at this matchup, it’s not like we’re a huge underdog,” Sachire said. “I think we’ll be excited to play and be willing to empty the tank and compete as hard as we can.”
The Irish look to get back to their winning ways against the Illini at 7 p.m. Friday at the Atkins Tennis Center.