Irish prepare to meet Michigan, other ranked opponents
Lucia Aguzzi | Wednesday, February 22, 2023
The No. 37 Notre Dame men’s tennis team is preparing this week to face the No. 4 University of Michigan Wolverines at the Eck Tennis Pavilion Thursday night. The Irish are coming off two winning matches from Saturday against No. 49 Wisconsin and University of Illinois Chicago, adding to their now 7-3 season record.
The Irish played Michigan in the fall in a friendly tournament, and head coach Ryan Sachire knows the value of playing highly ranked teams like them.
“It’ll be a challenge for us, [they] have huge amounts of firepower at every spot in their lineup. It’s gonna be really fun. It’ll be an unbelievable opportunity for us to test ourselves,” Sachire said.
The team as a whole has been doing well this season, but individual players on the team have also been shining on the court. Freshman Sebastian Dominko has been a force to face lately and was ranked 23rd individually.
“I don’t know that any of our guys have done that as freshmen. I don’t even look at him as a freshman anymore, he’s just a really good player,” Sachire said about Dominko.
Dominko has been pairing up for doubles with senior Connor Fu, who Sachire notes has become somewhat of a “big brother” to Sebastian on the team. The pair have been unstoppable on the court as of recent, and the same is expected for Thursday’s match.
Against the Wolverines, Sachire hopes for a learning opportunity for the team as a whole.
“They bring an eye level of intensity and firepower at every position. We know we’re gonna have to play well to have a chance to win. We know we can play with those teams and have a shot at being successful,” he added.
Michigan currently boasts a 12-1 record, their only loss Sunday against No. 7 Texas. While the Irish do have an at-home advantage, where they are 4-0 right now, Michigan is a force to be reckoned with, and their one loss against Texas came in a neutral site. Michigan also has No. 10 and 11 singles players Andrew Fenty and Patrick Maloney, respectively, as well as two more in the top 20.
Despite the Irish’s hot streak, they have been unable to beat any top-20 teams in competition. However, the Irish are prepared and ready to face off against Michigan.
Dominko was named ACC Player of the Week after his dominating victory Saturday. Earlier in the season, Dominko and Fu were named ACC Doubles Team of the Week.
The face-off with Michigan opens the gate to the upcoming schedule for the Irish, which has a number of noteworthy opponents on the list. As Thursday approaches, the team has been training specifically not only for the matchup with Michigan, but also No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday.
If Notre Dame hopes to continue their climb in the ranks, they must have a good showing in one of their upcoming ranked games. Their opportunity is now, with a series of four ranked opponents in Michigan, Ohio State, No. 10 UNC and No. 22 Duke.
The Irish will kick of this series Thursday, when they host Michigan at the Eck Tennis Pavilion at 6 p.m. EST.