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Men’s Tennis: Traveling inspires singles player

Sam Gans | Tuesday, August 30, 2011

For many kids, moving to multiple countries at a young age would stunt the pursuit of their goals and dreams, but for Irish sophomore Greg Andrews, it helped pave the road to his future.

Andrews, who enters the season as the likely incumbent to the No. 2 singles slot on Notre Dame’s roster, graduated from Gull Lake High School near Kalamazoo, Mich. But before that, living in diverse places helped facilitate a love for the game of tennis.

“Part of the reason that I played [tennis] was because I lived all over,” Andrews said. “I lived in Mexico and I actually started playing in Mexico. Then I moved to Texas and then England. And tennis is really one of the only sports they have in all those places.”

Andrews began playing tennis at five-years-old for fun. By age 11, he was playing competitively. Eventually, Andrews made his name known as one of the top players in the country on the high school junior circuit. His strong play led to interest from Notre Dame early in the recruiting process.

“[Associate head coach] Ryan Sachire contacted me really early,” Andrews said. “I started my junior year

and they were already talking to me and expressing interest, which I thought was really cool. One of the main reasons I came here was the academics mixed with great coaches. [Head coach Bob Bayliss and Sachire are] great coaches [and] they know their tennis, but they’re just great guys, too.”

Despite a strong junior career, Andrew still had to make quite an adjustment to college life.

“You’re really just kind of out there on your own before college and when you get to college it’s just such a different atmosphere,” he said. “Where we play at is a lot louder and you’re not just playing for yourself anymore.”

Despite the challenges, Andrews successfully made the transition. He played well enough for the Irish in his rookie campaign to earn the Big East Freshman of the Year award.

Even with this accomplishment, however, the accounting major is still looking to make improvements to his game heading into his sophomore season.

“The thing I’ve struggled with the most is I didn’t come in very well-rounded and we’ve been working on that since I got here, particularly on the backhand and serve,” he said. “I’ve been working on those [two shots] and want to continue working on those moving forward.”

Andrews is hoping those improvements will result in an increased performance, enough to move him into the individual national rankings.

“For myself, I didn’t get a ranking last year,” Andrews said. “I didn’t crack the top-125 and I’d really like to change that this year and at the very least get ranked. And hopefully, get a pretty good ranking, maybe in the top-60.”

But beyond that, he’s also looking for another grand accomplishment: a team Big East championship.

“I think there’s absolutely no reason we can’t win the Big East championship this year,” he said. “We definitely have the talent and it’s been awhile since we’ve won one, so we’re definitely pretty hungry.”

Andrews and the Irish open their season Sept. 16 at the Olympia Fields Invitational in Olympia Fields, Ill.