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Men’s Tennis: Competition sure to be high at Blue-Gray Classic

Andrew Owens | Friday, February 25, 2011

Hoping to continue its recent success, No. 26 Notre Dame will travel to Montgomery, Ala. this weekend to participate in the annual Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic.

The eight-team tournament features four squads currently ranked in the top 25.

“This is one of the oldest tournaments in the country,” Irish associate head coach Ryan Sachire said. “This year it features a really good field — all but one of the teams are in the top 50.”

All eight teams will play a match on all three days of the tournament, regardless of the outcomes.

“We play Penn State first and our next opponent will be determined by the outcomes of the first day,” Sachire said.

Despite the fact that the teams will be some of the best in the country, Sachire said he is optimistic that the Irish will play well.

“There’s no team that we can’t beat in this tournament,” he said.

Despite a 4-3 loss to Michigan last weekend, the Irish have won five of their last six matches. The team capped off the weekend with an important victory over No. 24 North Carolina.

“We need to keep the momentum from that match going this weekend,” Sachire said.

Since the beginning of the spring season, the coaching staff has put an emphasis on getting back to the basics, and the team has responded.

“Our practices have been sharp and crisp, and it showed against Virginia and Illinois,” Sachire said. “We had a high energy level and were competing hard.”

Once the calendar turns to March, Notre Dame will begin to host more matches, a sharp contrast from the first half of the spring season, when they only hosted four contests. The Irish have seven home matches remaining this season, excluding the Big East Championships, which will be held on campus at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“It’s certainly a lot easier not traveling,” Sachire said. “When we’re at home we don’t need to adjust to the court surface or waste time traveling. But at the same time, we have less distractions on the road and can just focus on tennis.”

The Irish will need to bring plenty of focus to the tournament this weekend, starting with their match against Penn State, which is today at 4:30 p.m.