Two Irish players ranked as spring season opens
Greg Hadley | Friday, January 17, 2014
After two months away from competition, No. 29 Notre Dame begins its spring season this weekend, with matches against William and Mary on Friday, and No. 47 Michigan State and Toledo on Sunday.
Both the Tribe and the Spartans are coming off doubleheader sweeps to start the season at 2-0, and Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said both squads present tough challenges for his squad in the early season.
“William and Mary is always one of the best teams in their conference,” Sachire said. “They do a great job of preparing and they have a couple of solid players. Michigan State went to [the NCAA tournament] last year and they return most of their starters. We fully expect a battle from each of them, but … at the same time, we’re confident that if we come out and play the way we want to play, there’s not a team on our schedule we can’t beat.”
Toledo had had a rough start to the new year, falling to Michigan State, 6-1, but the Rockets will play Michigan on Saturday before coming to Notre Dame.
History favors the Irish in each match. Last spring, Notre Dame beat both William and Mary and Michigan State, 6-1. The squad also owns a 27-2 all-time record against Toledo.
Senior Greg Andrews will continue to lead the way for the Irish after a stellar fall campaign that included a runner-up finish at the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Championships. Both Andrews and sophomore Quentin Monaghan enter the spring season ranked, Andrews at No. 22 and Monaghan at No. 90.
“Greg Andrews is exactly what we expect of him,” Sachire said. “He’s a great senior player, one of the best players in the country. He’s the leader of the team and he came back from break and continued to set the bar every single day for the rest of our guys.”
The Irish spent most of the fall focusing on player development, and that focus has paid off in a wealth of depth, Sachire said.
“We’ve got a lot of good players,” Sachire said. “We can go 11 or 12 deep and I would still feel very confident putting those players in a situation where we need them to win a big match. We’re going to have guys this spring sitting on the bench who are capable of winning.”
With so many options, Sachire said he anticipates a hectic spring as players move in and out of the lineup.
“It’s a long season,” Sachire said. “There’s always going to be adversity that we have to face, be it injury or illness or a player losing his confidence. When you have more good players than you have spots in the lineup, some people will feel like they could be playing and should be playing. But the reality is that as the season goes on, everyone will get opportunities. What it comes down to is who steps up and takes advantage of them.”
Sachire said he will look to several players who had good practices to step up for the Irish this weekend.
“[Sophomore] Eric Schnurrenberger came back from break and has really played well and competed well,” Sachire said. “There’s no question he has talent, but he’s really taken it to the next level. [Freshman] Eddy Covalschi also has done well in training. It’s clear both of them worked really hard over break.”
The Irish kickoff the spring season this weekend against William and Mary on Friday and Michigan State and Toledo on Sunday in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Contact Greg Hadley at [email protected]