With the news last week that Notre Dame will be moving to ACC, fans, players and coaches alike were deciding exactly how this move will affect them and their team.
But Irish coach Bobby Bayliss and his program knew immediately after the announcement where they stood.
"When I was sitting in the room with the other coaches when [Director of Athletics] Jack Swarbrick announced 9 a.m. last Wednesday that, as of 10:30 the night before, Notre Dame had accepted an invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, I got pretty excited," Bayliss said. "You could just feel the optimism and excitement in the room."
By moving to the ACC, the Irish become a member one of the top collegiate tennis conferences in the nation, Bayliss said.
Notre Dame will join the likes of Virginia, Duke and North Carolina, all of whom finished last season ranked in the top 20. In addition, the Irish have already competed against many ACC teams in the past, including Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest and North Carolina at least once in the past two years.
"The ACC is a terrific tennis conference, one of the best, if not the best, in the country," Bayliss said. "Virginia and Duke are consistently top 10 in the country. Florida State has reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament and a number of the other teams, like North Carolina, got into the quarterfinals all fairly recently.
"It's great to be a part of that kind of tradition and excellence. We've been playing, maybe the last seven or eight years, a lot of matches with Virginia, Florida State, Duke and North Carolina and they are the four best teams in the ACC."
The move also eases many of the scheduling problems Notre Dame has faced in recent years. Last season, the Irish only played four Big East conference matches before the Big East tournament. In the ACC, each member plays every other school before the ACC tournament.
"The Big East tennis is set up so that there isn't a mandatory round-robin across the schedule," Bayliss said. "And while there are some very good teams in the Big East, Pittsburgh, Louisville and South Florida, there isn't the depth that there is in the ACC.
"Scheduling becomes problematic during late March and April when most of the better national teams are in their conference schedule and they don't want to play an out-of-conference match. They already have their hands full. It is difficult for us to get quality teams at that time of the year."
Besides matches, Bayliss said he believes the move will also positively affect recruiting. Currently only three players on the Irish 15-man roster originate from the area the ACC encompasses. Thus, Bayliss anticipates becoming a member of the ACC can only improve the recruiting on the East Coast.
"My guess is it is a positive [for recruiting]," Bayliss said. "We are part of a great league and the best tennis is played in the warmer-weather climates so the best recruits are generally going to be from those climates.
"It's going to be a very strong East Coast synthesis and the majority of the population in the United States is on the East Coast, so there are obviously more people and more recruitable athletes. I think it's in every way a win-win."
With all the positives resulting from the move to the ACC, Bayliss had one person in particular he wanted to thank.
"My congratulations go to Jack Swarbrick for all the time and effort this took," Bayliss said. "I really think he deserves a lot of credit for pulling it off. We certainly had everyone's interest at heart and rarely does something like this affect everyone positively, but literally there are no losers at Notre Dame in this arrangement."
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