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Irish hit road to take on Michigan over weekend

| Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fresh off last weekend’s sweep in its first doubleheader of the season against Ball State and Wisconsin, the No. 16 Irish (5-1) will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to face No. 47 Michigan on Saturday evening.

Irish sophomore Eddy Covalschi returns a shot during Notre Dame's 4-3 win over Oklahoma State on Jan. 24 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.Michael Yu | The Observer
Irish sophomore Eddy Covalschi returns a shot during Notre Dame’s 4-3 win over Oklahoma State on Jan. 24 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

The recent ITA’s men’s national rankings released Tuesday placed the doubles pair of junior Alex Lawson and senior Billy Pecor at No. 4 in the country and sophomores Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar at No. 17. In the singles rankings, junior Quentin Monaghan leads the team at No. 29 and Hagar stands at No. 92. Despite these high rankings, the Irish do not plan to focus too much on the numbers, Irish coach Ryan Sachire said.

“Rankings are a reflection of what you’ve done in the past. [The] reality is that at this point in the season, they mean nothing,” Sachire said. “Of course it’s nice to see your name there but it’s not really a big deal at the moment. Our focus is on what’s next for us. We want to continue to build the team and the players throughout the rest of the season to eventually have better rankings than those by the end.”

Last month, the Irish fell to the No. 15 Columbia, 4-2, at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in a nail-biter in which the Irish lost four of the six singles matchups. That result was the lowlight of a string of four matches than all came down to the final singles matches. And while the Irish had a relatively easy weekend Feb. 4-5, winning their matches by a combined 13-1 score, they must prepared for an upset bid from Michigan, Sachire said.

“Michigan is a really good team.” Sachire said. “They have two seniors who have played the No. 1 and No. 2 slots, and they’ve been around a long time but there’s a lot of younger talent lower in the lineup. The rankings are deceiving. I expect a great, close match.”

Notre Dame boasts a three-match winning streak after topping No. 26 Northwestern 4-3 in a close matchup two weeks ago, then sweeping Ball State 7-0, and dominating Wisconsin 6-1 last weekend. For the Irish, this week will not be about rankings but rather consistency and keeping up their streak, Sachire said.

“We’ve been playing particularly well at the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles slots, getting better and better as the year goes on. Doubles are a big part of the team’s identity so we want to do the best we can in the doubles component,” Sachire said. “In terms of singles, each player has individual nuances on which they are focusing on. Ultimately, our philosophy is for our guys to have complete versatility so they can do virtually anything on the court.”

The Irish take to the road for the second time this season Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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