Jan. 21, 1998
Sachire and Irish Set Sights on Athens
Improvement is the mark of a good athlete. The improvement of sophomore Ryan Sachire on the Notre Dame men's tennis team since he stepped foot on the Notre Dame campus has been remarkable.
Sachire began his freshman year playing third or fourth singles, but by the end of the fall he had made his statement that he was going to play a major role in the future of Irish tennis.
At the Midwest Rolex Championships in 1996, Sachire advanced to the finals by defeating then number one Irish player Jakub Pietrowski. The victory forced Irish head coach Bob Bayliss to consider Sachire for the number one position on the team, and by the middle of the spring Sachire had earned the spot all to himself.
During his freshman season the Canfield, Ohio native compiled a 37-9 singles record, and earned a berth in the NCAA singles tournament. He was victorious in his first round match over Daniel Anderson of Virginia Commonwealth by a 6-1, 6-4 score, but fell in the second round to Stanford's Ryan Wolters (6-2, 6-2). At the end of the season, Sachire was named Intercollegiate Tennis Associations regional rookie of the year and earned a final ranking of No. 37 by the ITA.
It would seem that Sachire's rise to the top of Irish men's tennis should not come as a surprise, coming from a two-time Ohio state champion who lost only five singles matches in his entire scholastic career at Canfield High School. However, his rapid improvement surprised even himself.
"I was surprised as everyone that I was playing number one last year," says Sachire. "It was a big adjustment for me. I just kept on improving, and that allowed me to gain confidence."
He adjusted quickly to his new role on the Irish team, and was able to continue his success and improvement throughout the season, and into the off season. Over the summer, Sachire played on United States Tennis Association satellite tour, and earned several good wins.
"It was a lot different than the college season," says Sachire. "It really made me appreciate college life, and all the amenities that go along with that. Everything is given to us here. I had a great time this summer, but it made me realize how lucky I am to be at Notre Dame."
As the spring season of his sophomore year begins, the Irish open their spring home schedule Saturday at the Eck Pavilion with matches against Miami (Ohio) at 9 a.m. and DePaul at 4 p.m., Sachire is focused on the success of the team this season. When asked about his individual goals, Sachire pointed out that the success of the team comes first, and that is how the entire Irish squad feels.
"Our team goal is to get down to Athens, Georgia, where the NCAA team championships are this year," says Sachire. "We feel we have a very good team, and if we can get there anything can happen. It is still a long way off, but we will continue to work hard to achieve our goal. Individually, I would like to be No. 1 in the region, and make it back to the NCAAs, but that would all be gravy if I could do that."
The first goal of the team is to get off to a good start in the spring, and regain the BIG EAST title, which they lost to Miami last spring.
"Losing the BIG EAST championship was a big disappointment last year," says Sachire. "We lost a little bit of focus at the end of the season last year, and lost to a very good Miami team. We need to maintain that focus this year in order to regain the title. Winning the BIG EAST title is just another stepping stone in our goal of reaching and succeeding in the NCAA tournament."
It seems that the Irish are poised for a good run this season, returning five of their top six singles players, and its top doubles team. Seniors Jakub Pietrowski and Daniel Rothschild will join Sachire as leaders on this years squad.
As the number one player on the team Sachire admits he must accept some leadership duties but he contends that is part of who he is and what he has always wanted to do.
"Every time I go out there as the number one player, I'm in the fire," says Sachire. "I accept that challenge, but being a leader has always been one of my goals. I am an outspoken person Ð I say what I feel. So the leadership which comes from playing in the number one slot on the team seems very natural to me."
Sachire's career at Notre Dame began rapidly, and has continued at that pace. He is not just an outstanding tennis player, he is a winner. It is an intangible quality which he not only brings to his matches, but to the team as well. The future of Sachire is bright, and if he continues to succeed at the level he has over the past year and a half, the Irish men's tennis team will continue to improve along with him.