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Men’s Tennis: No. 21 Irish to host USF, Dayton

Andrew Owens | Thursday, March 24, 2011

With only a little over a month until the Big East championships, the No. 21 Irish find themselves at a crossroads in their chase for another berth in the NCAA tournament. The team will continue action this weekend as it hosts Dayton and conference foe South Florida.

Notre Dame (10-8) has competed at a high level for much of the season, but at times has had trouble finishing strongly against some of the tougher opponents.

“We need to work hard and compete hard this weekend,” Irish associate head coach Ryan Sachire said.

With a 5-2 victory over No. 4 Illinois on March 8, the Irish entered spring break with momentum and confidence. After winning an exhibition match against the U.S. National Junior Team, the squad dropped its first match in nearly two weeks when it visited No. 14 Kentucky.

Picking up wins at home is naturally crucial, and after these matches Notre Dame will only host one more weekend of matches before the Big East championships.

In the first match, Notre Dame will face a very familiar opponent — South Florida (10-5).

Although the Bulls have had trouble with consistency during the course of the season, the Irish know they will have a difficult match on their hands.

“South Florida is very, very good,” Sachire said. “Their ranking level is not as high as it should be. Their talent level is much better than that. We’re taking this match as if it’s against Duke, Illinois or any other highly-ranked team because we respect them so much.”

Later in the day, Notre Dame will face Dayton (1-10).

The Irish will begin play Sunday at noon against South Florida before concluding the doubleheader with Dayton at 6 p.m. Both matches will be held at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.