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Men’s Tennis

ND men’s tennis Coach Ryan Sachire commends team on season

| Friday, May 21, 2021

Despite a bogged down start to their spring campaign, the Notre Dame men’s tennis team found their stride going down the home stretch of the regular season. The Irish (15-11, 7-5 ACC) finished fifth in the ACC and earned their way into another NCAA tournament appearance including a first-round win against Western Michigan (22-2, 9-0 MAC).

Irish head coach Ryan Sachire was extremely proud of the way his team overcame challenges throughout the season, especially with many new restrictions and guidelines in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We got off to a bit of a rocky start early in the season, but our guys stuck together,” Sachire said. “We came together as a group, as a program and really finished pretty darn strong — ACC tournament notwithstanding — and played our best tennis of the whole season coming down the stretch of the regular season.”

Sachire said the team did a good job of respecting health protocols and making good choices to keep the group healthy and allow the team to play a relatively full season.

The challenge of not having a fall season was something of a surprise for coach Sachire and the rest of the squad, especially with many of his players not having played competitive matches in nine months leading into the regular season.

“It’s the first time obviously that any of us have ever dealt with not competing in the fall, just practicing in the fall, and then obviously all the challenges that COVID brought from how we had to structure our practices,” he said. “We figured it out as we went along and figured it out on the fly and did a pretty darn good job I think as the season went along.”

Helping to lead the charge for the Irish this season was junior Axel Nefve, who will be representing the team in both singles and doubles along with partner Tristan McCormick in the NCAA championships on May 22nd. Nefve racked up an 18-3 record at the number one singles position and a 10-4 record at the number one doubles position. Sachire highlighted Nefve’s work ethic as the big reason for his growth this season.

“It started with what he did on his own during the first part of the pandemic when school wasn’t in session yet,” Sachire said. “Throughout the summer he worked his tail off, made himself a better athlete, made himself a better tennis player, and throughout the fall, even though we weren’t competing in tournaments his level pretty much every single day in practice was really really high. He’s really emerged as one of the best players in college tennis and had a great year.”

The season as a whole including communication with his players is something Sachire is looking to learn from and take into next year’s season.

“I do think the pandemic brought some changes to our program out of necessity and some of which will continue to carry on,” he said. “I think one of the things that I’ll learn the most from came from a lot of the conversations we had with our guys early in the year.”

The team was not able to do much team-building in the fall, but was able to communicate well as a group when the season started.

“That was something, maybe that freshness, not having been able to do as many team meetings in the fall but bringing that to light in the spring. I think that will serve all of us well moving forward throughout the rest of my career, in the short term at least, and something we’ll take into next season with us,” Sachire said.

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