It’s a new season for Notre Dame men’s tennis. Following a mediocre season last year, the Irish are looking for improvement both in and out of ACC play this year. Irish head coach Ryan Sachire and his team — filled with savvy veterans and some high-flying freshmen — know that this weekend presents a key opportunity to showcase that improvement.
The Irish have gotten off to a blazing start this season, crushing DePaul and IUPUI on Jan. 13, sweeping Chicago State on the road and winning a 4-3 thriller against Western Michigan last week at Eck Tennis Pavilion. Their lone defeat came against Northwestern on Jan. 15 in Evanston.
The Irish will head to Lexington, Kentucky, this weekend to play in the Kentucky Regional of the ITA Kickoff. They are seeded No. 2 in the tournament and will take on No. 3 Washington on Friday at 5 p.m. in the opening round. The Irish last played Washington in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Championships. The Huskies won 4-3 in a match that lasted more than four hours.
Should the Irish prevail, they will play the winner of No. 1 Kentucky and No. 4 Liberty in the final. The victorious squad will earn a spot in the ITA National Indoor Championships. That tournament will be hosted by the University of Illinois in February.
Notre Dame was last invited to the Kentucky Regional in 2014. That season, they would go on to qualify for the ITA National Indoor Championships. Overall, Sachire has brought the team to the competition three times during his tenure, most recently in 2019.
This weekend’s competition provides a premier opportunity for the Irish to continue their success this season and reach a milestone that they failed to last year. In a season which will be defined by momentum and consistency, playing in these sorts of big-stage matches before ACC play begins will be crucial for the team.