NOTRE DAME, Ind. --- On the heels of a strong showing at the ACC Championship that got the Notre Dame men's tennis team to the semifinals last weekend, the NCAA has announced that the Irish will play host to the regional first and second rounds of the 2014 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship as the 13th seed.
"We are excited to have put ourselves in the position to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament," says head coach Ryan Sachire. "Our guys have done a great job all year long and have earned this opportunity."
The first and second rounds will take place next weekend, May 9-11, and the Irish will be joined by Green Bay (18-7), Northwestern (21-10) and Ole Miss (15-13).
In the first round, the Irish will face Green Bay, and Sachire says Notre Dame has the advantage of facing them in tournament play earlier this year.
"Green Bay is an excellent team that we are very familiar with from competing against some of their players in the fall," Sachire explains. "They are particularly strong at the top of their lineup, and we expect the match to be very competitive."
Should the Irish beat Green Bay, they will advance to play the winner of the Northwestern/Ole Miss match. The Irish have the added benefit of having gone up against Northwestern in February, beating them 4-1, but Sachire says either opponent would present a strong challenge.
"Ole Miss is a traditional SEC powerhouse, and they are led by a hall of fame head coach," Sachire says. "They have won multiple SEC Championships in recent years and have played in the National Championship match, so they are clearly bringing a pedigree of excellence with them.
"Northwestern has an extremely talented team, who we know very well. We had an extremely close match with them in February, and they have improved greatly from that match early in the season."
The top seeds of the tournament consist of No. 1 USC, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Virginia, and of those four, Notre Dame faced all but Oklahoma. The Irish have preached process and grit all season long, and they are without a doubt competing with a faraway goal in mind. In the meantime, however, they must focus on the task in front of them.
"We believe in ourselves a great deal and are confident that we will play very well next weekend," Sachire says. "We have been on a steady climb all season long, and we are working extremely hard in practice to continue that improvement throughout the end of the season. However, we have a ton of respect for Green Bay and either second round opponent if we are fortunate enough to win on Saturday. It should be a fantastic weekend of tennis."