Irish head to Chowder Fest
Daniel O'Boyle | Thursday, September 15, 2016
Notre Dame begins its 2016-17 season this week with the first of the season’s individual tournaments, Chowder Fest, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Beside the Irish, the tournament will feature Texas A&M, Illinois and the hosts, Harvard.
Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said all four of the teams competing are very talented teams.
“It’s a really good-level tournament,” Sachire said. “ … Traditionally, all four of us are top-25 level programs and I think for a large stretch of last year, Illinois and A&M were in the top 10. It will be a very good level of competition and we’ll see some very good tennis.”
The competition includes two of the top 10 singles players in the country, in Illinois’ Aleks Vukic and Texas A&M’s Arthur Rinderknech. Sachire said playing some of the best players in the nation early on can be a great way to prepare his team for the spring dual season.
“They’re all very good,” Sachire said. “The philosophy that we have with scheduling, especially in the fall, is to expose our team to some of the best level of college tennis that we can so that when we face the competition that we play in the springtime, we’re going to see everything by then. There’s nothing that’s going to be new in terms of level of play or anything. It’s not like we’re jumping up in class once we get to next season. We’re going to prepare our guys and show them the best level we can show them every week and help them get adjusted and ready to roll come spring time.”
Last year, the Irish were led by a strong senior class that included Quentin Monaghan, who was ranked as the No. 35 singles player in the nation at the end of the year, and Alex Lawson, who reached the NCAA doubles semifinals alongside Monaghan. Senior Josh Hagar will be the highest-ranked player in the team for this year, at No. 70 in the preseason rankings, while freshmen Johnathan Small and Matthew Gamble, part of a top-five ranked recruiting class, may also have a chance to make an impact early on in their Notre Dame careers. Seniors Eddy Covalschi and sophomore Grayson Broadus will also return after playing a major role last season. Sachire said he believes his team is well-prepared for the start of the season, despite the roster turnover.
“I think we’ve been preparing very well,” Sachire said. “We’ve only been in official team practice here for a couple of days, but our guys have done a very good job since school started. We’ve done a lot of individual work with each of them, they’ve conditioned very well, and I feel like all of our returning players have made good jumps from last spring, and the freshmen are still getting a good feel for how they fit in. But you don’t really know a ton until you start competing, so we’ll certainly learn a lot this weekend, but it’s been a really good start to the year. The work ethic has been very good and we’re excited to go play on Friday.”
Sachire said he hoped to see his players playing to their strengths in the tournament.
“The biggest thing we’ve had with our guys this school year is playing the way that they want to play,” Sachire said. “In other words, not allowing pressure to make them play too conservatively or overly aggressive, but to play at their optimal level, their style, and treat each point with that mentality. Do not allow the pressure of the moment, score pressure, whatever to affect how they play. Go out and be the best they can be and if the opponent is too good, then that’s fine, but doing things to the best of their capability and not allowing pressure to impact how they play.”
The tournament begins Friday morning at Beren Tennis Center in Cambridge and will last all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday.