Irish prepare to kickoff ACC play against Georgia Tech and Clemson
Madeline Ladd | Thursday, March 3, 2022
Notre Dame Men’s Tennis has a jam-packed weekend at home as they face Georgia Tech at 4 p.m. on Friday followed by Clemson on Saturday in a noon conference contest. The Irish don’t stop there, however, as they turn around to face Fordham at 4:30 p.m. the same day. This will be the first meeting between the Irish and the Rams. Play between Georgia Tech and Clemson will mark the first two ACC matches of the season for the Irish. Up to this point, the team has had a solid non-conference season, with an overall record of 8-4.
The Irish put up a fight against top teams like No. 3 Ohio State, but did not have enough in each match to get over the hump. Nevertheless, the Irish ruled the court against UIC last weekend, ending the night with a 5-0 victory to rebound after the 4-0 OSU defeat. Head coach Ryan Sachire is confident in his team as they move into ACC play.
“We won our fair share of matches, so we feel pretty well-prepared going into ACC play,” Sachire said. “The ACC is obviously one of the very strongest tennis conferences in the country, and virtually every match will be highly contested. The preparation we’ve had to this point makes us feel pretty good that we’ve experienced everything that we are going to see here in the next two months.”
Falling to teams like OSU taught Irish what they need to work on in practice to be ready when the next game rolls around.
“I think taking that confidence that ‘hey look, this is maybe the best team in the country,’ and playing them close in certain spots can certainly be a confidence builder,” Sachire said. “More importantly, we saw where we needed to get to as a team.”
Those in the top of the lineup have helped the team set their sights on these aspirations. Sachire cited Senior Axel Nefve as an asset for the Irish, as he consistently emerges as a top performer in every match.
“Axel has been playing at a really high level and he’s one of the very best players in the country, “ Sachire said. “He’s been doing a phenomenal job both in practice and in matches this year, and it’s going to be exciting to watch him play against every ACC opponent’s best player as well.”
The Delray Beach, FL native hopes to use his skill in order to benefit the team, focusing on the good of the group rather than individual play.
“I’ve been pretty successful individually, but this year, so far, it’s been more about the team in my lens,” Nefve said. “Giving as much as I have to the team is number one for me. The ability to win more – not just individually but as a team – has been my priority.”
Sachire also recognizes graduate transfer Aditya Vashistha, who has “played at a super high level” according to Sachire, greatly improving particularly in the last five or six matches the Irish have had.
“It’s a great feeling going into matches when you know that your talent and your level at the top of the lineup is capable of winning against any team that you play,” Sachire said. “Other guys on our team are doing a great job too, but those two guys in particular have been leading us on the court.”
In terms of this weekend, the Irish have recently fared well against their upcoming opponents. The Irish won 4-3 on the road last year in a highly contested matchup against the Yellow Jackets, and turned around quickly to win 4-2 against the Tigers. However, With Georgia Tech boasting a No. 12 player in the nation and another ranked at 105, they will certainly bring a high level of talent to the match. Nevertheless, the Irish are yearning to build a winning streak this weekend.
“I think our expectation is that these matches are going to be similar to last year,” Sachire said. “It’s going to be close and it’s going to come down to a few points here and there. Whoever is the team that can best execute and best compete in the moment is going to be the team that wins.”
As for the ACC as a whole, the Irish are prepared to get to the top. Led by a hopeful Nefve, the Irish set their goals very high and have had a warm-up in the non-conference season.
“I think we have a real shot to be one of the best teams in the ACC”, Nefve said. Our team believes that we’re up there and that we can compete with anyone.”
Sachire shares similar sentiments.
“Our goals are like they always are – very high,” Sachire said. “We have to take it one match at a time and give everything we have during those matches and hope that the results follow that.”
The first match against Georgia Tech begins at 4:30 Friday at Eck Tennis Pavilion, followed by Clemson at noon and Fordham at 4:30 on Saturday. Admission into Eck is free.