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Men’s Tennis

Doubleheader brings unfamiliar opponents to Irish

| Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Notre Dame is set to host a doubleheader on Saturday against Monmouth and William & Mary at Eck Tennis Pavilion, with the first match scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said he expects two tough matches against two quality teams on Saturday.

“They aren’t traditional opponents of ours, so there’s definitely a little of the unknown heading into both matches,” Sachire said. “We’re not all that familiar with their personnel. I can tell you Monmouth won their conference last year and made the NCAA tournament, and William & Mary have been a solid team the past two years. We’re expecting good matches. They’re quality opponents and our guys will certainly be challenged.

“But I think with every team you don’t traditionally play year in and year out, the focus has to be on us, since we don’t really know the opponent all that well. We have to have a great week of practice this week to improve our games and to be ready to play our best tennis on Saturday.”

Irish junior Brendon Kempin tosses the ball for a serve during Notre Dame’s 5-2 win over Indiana on Feb. 7 at Eck Tennis Pavilion. Kempin’s doubles match went unfinished as the Irish won before it came to an end.Becki Jeren | The Observer

Irish junior Brendon Kempin tosses the ball for a serve during Notre Dame’s 5-2 win over Indiana on Feb. 7 at Eck Tennis Pavilion. Kempin’s doubles match went unfinished as the Irish won before it came to an end.

Sachire said since his team doesn’t see these two opponents often, his team is going to emphasize their strengths rather than try to exploit weak points in the opponents’ play.

“In a way it’s hard, but in another way it’s easy,” Sachire said. “I think you can drive yourself crazy if you try to focus on the opponent when you don’t really know what it is you are focusing on. So I think to simplify, we’re going to focus on ourselves, and I think we’re going to take the approach with each match that we’re going to start out playing our game. If we have to make any adjustments for our opponent, we can certainly do so throughout the course of a match. But in terms of starting the match, we’re just going to focus on our strengths and how we want to play rather than trying to exploit any weaknesses of our opponent because we don’t know them all that well.”

Last weekend, the Irish participated in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where they dropped a 4-0 decision to North Carolina and won a 4-1 decision against Penn State.

Sachire reiterated the need to execute and return the serve effectively.

“ … The two most important shots in the sport are the serve and the return of serve because they start every single point in tennis,” Sachire said. “I think we did a pretty good job with those things over the weekend, but we can’t forget to really hone in on those skills. So I think we’re going to really continue to focus on those two elements of the game this week in practice and focus on some of the smaller nuances of the game, which are individual for each guy. We will certainly improve each small element of everyone’s individual game, but I think as a team we’re going to really emphasis the serve and the return, and practice those two skills as much as we can.”

Sachire said his advice to his team is to just play their game on their terms.

“Same thing I told them last weekend, which is just go out, let it rip, play aggressive tennis and play on our terms,” Sachire said. “Trust yourself in the big moments and go through your shots. That’s the only way you can win long term and win at the level we want to win at, so it has to be a habit we have during every single match we play and that’s the approach we’re going to take mentally. We’re going to be a confident, aggressive team, and try to play each match on our terms as much as we can and trust that when we do, good things will happen.”

Notre Dame faces Monmouth first at 10 a.m., then will take on William & Mary at 3 p.m.

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