Irish to host Virginia, begin ACC play
After a victorious weekend in Norman, Oklahoma, the Irish men’s tennis team is set to host No. 16 Virginia on Friday. This will be the first match of the spring season in South Bend, and No. 17 Notre Dame (3-0) is looking to establish a rhythm in the first of a seven-game stretch at home.
When asked about the environment in Eck Tennis Pavilion, Coach Ryan Sachire described how the spectators and the team build off of each other’s energy to create a unique home-court advantage.
“We’ve traditionally always played very well in this building, and Friday night matches have created some really good buzz around here in the past,” Sachire said. “I think we’re hoping for and expecting … a packed house. I know we’re all getting focused on what we can control, and that’s how we compete and how we respond to adversity and, if we do that, I think the crowd feeds off of that, we feed off of them and that makes for a pretty good combination.”
Sophomore Tristian McCormick also predicted the crowd could prove to be a major factor in Friday’s match.
“I think we’re going to have a big crowd, which will be great,” McCormick said. “UVA has a couple of young guys that maybe haven’t been in that experience before, and I think that … we’re definitely more seasoned in dual matches. We’re going to use that to our advantage.”
Virginia could prove to be a difficult first matchup in ACC play. The Cavaliers (4-0) are fresh off a tough 4-3 win against a formidable Texas A&M team, and junior standout Carl Söderlund was just named the ACC Singles Player of the Week. Sachire and the Irish are looking forward to all of the challenges that facing a team of Virginia’s stature brings.
“We’re excited. I mean … it’s a huge match,” Sachire said. “Virginia obviously is … a great program. They also won their two matches this past weekend, and they’ll be going to National Indoors as well. They have as much talent as virtually anybody in the country. We look at them, and I know they’re ranked 16 as of this interview, but I think they’re a top-five level team. We know we’re going to have to play great tennis to win, but we’re excited. It’s not necessarily about the winning and losing that we talk about, it’s about enjoying the battle and giving everything that we have as individuals.”
The winner of this match will have a valuable advantage in a competitive field of teams in the ACC. As Friday’s match time of 5 p.m. draws nearer, Sachire feels confident in his team’s ability to handle the pressure of a big matchup.
“It’s just another match against another great team. We’ve already played tough matches. We’ve already played power-five, strong NCAA tournament level teams,” Sachire said. “Having experienced a … close and competitive … match on Sunday, I think we’re not going to be shocked when we find ourselves in that situation again. I expect the match on Friday to be pretty similar in terms of how close it is.”