Notre Dame set for early test at North Carolina
Michael Ivey | Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Notre Dame will travel to Chapel Hill to take on No. 9 North Carolina on Friday and, depending on the outcome, either Penn State or Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said his team will be ready for a tough matchup against a conference opponent.
“We are going to face some tough competition,” Sachire said. “North Carolina was ranked No. 1 in the country for most of last year, and the group of guys that are juniors and seniors now have been perennial top-10 teams since they have gotten to North Carolina. They’ve been a program over the last five years that has been one of the elite ones in our sport. They’re very well coached, they have a great team and we’re expecting a good match on Friday.”
This past weekend, the Irish opened the spring schedule by defeating Ball State 7-0 at home Friday then dropping a closer-than-it-looks 5-2 decision to Kentucky on the road Sunday.
Sachire believes the fast start to the season has helped his team pinpoint what they need to work on more.
“We had a pretty busy weekend this past week,” Sachire said. “I think after the first weekend of the season, there are definitely some positives to build on and some areas to get better at. We have a relatively young team, so every week is going to be a learning and growing experience, and hopefully we can take the lessons that we learned [Sunday], improve over the next couple days of practice and be ready to roll on Friday.”
Sachire said his team isn’t looking past North Carolina on Friday to worry about who they will face Saturday.
“It obviously would be easier if you knew who you were playing on the second day, but the reality is we’re going to take it one match at a time,” Sachire said. “Right now, we’re thinking about North Carolina on Friday, and ultimately it comes down to how well we play. When you’re playing at that level, you know that if you play well — you play your best and compete your best — you know you’re going to win. But if you don’t play well, the level of competition is too strong, and you’re not going to win. So for us, if we can go down there and do the things we are capable of doing, we’ll give ourselves a chance. That’s what we’re focusing on this week.”
On April 8 of last season, the Irish defeated then-No. 1 North Carolina 5-2 at home. Sachire knows his team will need to put in the same effort as last year if they want the same result and said his message to his team is simple.
“Have fun, let it fly and go after them,” Sachire said. “North Carolina is a team we have [beaten] here last year when they were No. 1 in the country, and so I think our guys know that we can certainly win if we play well, so we’ll have some confidence. We also know that North Carolina is a great team, and we’re going to have to be aggressive and dictate play as much as we can, and we have to take our chances when we get them and make them count.”
The Irish and Tar Heels are set to square off at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Cone-Kenfield Tennis Complex.