Squad splits weekend matches, prepares for tough road trip
Liam Coolican | Friday, February 19, 2021
After splitting a pair of home matches with Western Michigan and Middle Tennessee State last weekend, the Notre Dame men’s tennis team will travel to North Carolina this weekend to face NC State and Wake Forest, two programs ranked inside the top 20.
The Irish won the first match of the weekend 5-2 against Western Michigan thanks to strong singles play but fell Sunday in a nail-biting 4-3 defeat to Middle Tennessee.
“We had a couple of our normal starters out, and so guys found themselves in new roles on the team and in the lineup,” Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said. “[We] performed for the most part pretty well. Fought hard, competed hard.”
After taking the doubles point, Middle Tennessee took four of the six singles points to secure the victory. The hard-fought match came down to the final set.
“[We] put ourselves in a position to win that match, just didn’t quite get it across the finish line,” he said. “We obviously want to win those matches and play better tennis when we have chances to win but there were certainly some positives to take.”
Notre Dame is now preparing for a weekend road trip to face Wake Forest and North Carolina State.
“We expect great challenges down there,” Sachire said. “We’ve had some historical battles with both of these teams, and we’re certainly expecting close matches and a really high level [of] competition.”
Wake Forest has taken the last eight matchups against Notre Dame, including a 4-3 victory the last time the two sides faced off in 2019. The Irish have not beaten the Demon Deacons since 2014. The Deacons are off to a strong start this season, winning five of their first seven matches. They have also had a great deal of success in recent years, winning the national championship in 2018 and making it to the championship match in 2019.
Notre Dame takes the court against Wake Forest at 3 p.m. Friday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, before traveling just over a hundred miles to Raleigh to face North Carolina State on Sunday morning.
The Wolfpack have also been tough opponents for the Irish, winning the last three matchups including a 5-0 sweep in South Bend in 2019. They finished last year’s abbreviated season ranked sixth in the nation and have returned nearly all of their production this year. They are currently ranked 17th in the ITA collegiate tennis rankings, while Wake Forest is 13th, so both teams figure to be tough matches for the Irish.
Sachire pointed to the doubles match as an indicator of success.
“We started playing pretty good doubles last weekend. We’ve got to continue that,” Sachire said. “That’s a big part of college tennis, even though it’s just worth one point, the doubles point is an important one.”
Sachire said he wants his team to be more confident in important moments.
“A big key is being able to stay confident, stay aggressive in big moments and go after it because opponents like the ones we’re going to be playing against, they’re not going to give us anything,” he said. “We’re going to have to take everything we get.”