Irish eager to begin fall season, look to improve for spring
Michael Ivey | Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Notre Dame is ready to get back in the swing of things this weekend when it participates in the Chowder Fest tournament in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Napa Valley Classic in Napa Valley, California, from Friday to Sunday to kick off the fall season.
The Irish will then travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for the Crimson Tide 4-In-The-Fall tournament next weekend before competing in the St. Francis Health ITA All-American championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the following week. Notre Dame will then host the Bobby Bayliss Invitational at Eck Tennis Pavilion from Oct. 6-8.
Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said he likes the training his team has done during the offseason.
“In the summertime, we had a bunch of guys doing a bunch of different things,” Sachire said. “A couple of our guys were away doing internships over the summer, but a lot of them stayed on campus and did summer school and played a lot of tournaments and played here on campus a fair amount, so it was really good. A lot of the young guys stayed, and I think they made some significant strides in their game. They all got bigger and stronger and faster as well, so I think it was a productive summer, and we’re trying to get back going and competing again as a unit this weekend.”
Sachire said his team will use the fall season to improve for the dual match season starting in January.
“The dual match season doesn’t start until January, so we try and separate the two seasons, fall and spring,” Sachire said. “The fall is all individual-based, so we’ll travel as a team to the various events, but there’s no team score kept and only individual scores count. There is no team rankings in the fall or anything like that. So looking at the short term here in the fall, I think our expectations are to improve. We have a big squad this year with 15 guys on the team and we have some really good young players that have been added to our roster, and we feel we have as deep of a team as we have ever had here. That’s great and all, but we want to make sure we are continuing to improve.
“So each guy will be playing approximately four tournaments throughout the next few weeks during the fall to get some match play in, and while those results count, we’re hoping to help them develop during these next few months as well. So we’re prioritizing development and obviously competing and watching them grow and improve competitively as well and handle match situations better hopefully this year than they even did last year.”
The Irish missed out on the team NCAA tournament last season but placed one player in the individual tournament. Senior Josh Hagar advanced to the Round of 32 before being eliminated.
Sachire said his team is looking to improve on last season’s result.
“I think all-in-all, we had some high moments last season, but I think everyone would say in general it was a little bit of a disappointing one,” Sachire said. “We lost six ACC matches 4-3 — we were right there in a lot of matches, so I think the positive from that is our guys know they can play at a high level and play with anybody in the country, so the next step is to win those matches. I think what they can build off of is that experience that we are pretty good and competitive with just about everybody we played, but we have to be better. We have to do our job better in the biggest moments of the match and turn those losses into wins.”
Specifically, Sachire said his team will focus on improving their doubles play.
“I think, in general, we want to get back into being a really dominant doubles team,” Sachire said. “The doubles point is only one out of seven points, so it doesn’t seem like it’s that important, but the reality is that it’s really hard to beat a good team in four out of six singles matches. Whichever squad wins that doubles point at the beginning of the match has a pretty big advantage going into the singles matches knowing that as long as they split their singles three and three, they’re going to win the team match. So we have the ability of being a pretty darn good doubles team this year, and that’s going to be a big part of our identity moving forward.”
Sachire said he is excited about this team and getting the fall season started this weekend.
“I love our guys,” Sachire said. “We have a great group of kids — they work hard, they’re committed, they want to represent Notre Dame well, and I think when you have that as your starting spot, good things are going to happen. So I couldn’t be prouder to coach this team and have these guys representing us. Now, we just have to go out there and do well when it counts starting in January.”