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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

Irish travel to Florida for Dick Vitale Clay Court Invitational

This weekend the Irish will be traveling to compete in the annual Dick Vitale Clay Court Invitational. The tournament will take place in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, from Nov. 1-3. The Irish have certainly been racking up the air miles, with this being their second consecutive competition in down in Florida.

Senior Jonathan Small, juniors William Howels and Connor Sommers and sophomore Axel Nefve will be the only members of the Irish squad that will be competing. Notre Dame is trying to make a statement by sending an experienced squad down to Florida.

In the next week, the other members of the team will be traveling to the ITA National Fall Championships in Newport Beach, California, and the Gopher Dynamic Duo Invitational in Minneapolis.

As the individual season to comes to a close, the week-long fall break provided the team with some much needed rest. Head coach Ryan Sachire, provided some commentary on how important this break was at this point in the season.

“I think we’re getting better. That’s what we want over the course of the fall,” Sachire said. “You want your team to improve and you want the individual players on your team to improve. We had a really really good week of practice last week. We stayed for fall break and trained. I think the guys are training to a high level and I think that we can continue to take steps forward this weekend.”

Sachire went on to identify what areas of the team’s play have seen the most improvement so far this season.

“We’re certainly getting better with our doubles play,” he said. “In terms of improvement, each guy has made individual improvements in his game. The other area of our game that has improved is the serve and return. Beyond that, it’s individual and based on each player.”

Expanding on his philosophy behind doubles play, Sachire broke down how his Irish team works to improve during the fall tournaments.

“My philosophy is to play guys with as many different partners as possible, so that when we get to the spring time and we’re playing dual matches, we have a wide variety of combinations to choose from to form our doubles line up,” Sachire said. “We try to have different guys play with one another and see if there’s any magical sparks and partnerships that really click. Then we can rely on teams in the spring.”

In particular, two juniors have stood out as a promising pairing for the spring.

“Richard Ciamarra and Tristan McCormick,” Sachire said. “They’ve played together before. They played together last year and they qualified for the NCAA doubles tournament. They’ve only played one event together this year, but they seem to have done a great job there. They’re emerging as consistently one of the best teams in the country.”

The Irish will be competing against different players and schools than they normally do here, in the Midwest. The team will be competing against players from the University of Florida, Florida State and Duke.

“It’s different teams for sure. I don’t think that we’ve been in too many events with those teams yet. So it’ll be new competition for our guys and it’ll be a good experience,” Sachire said. “But tennis is tennis and every event we enter we try to push the guys that are in that event. It’s no different against these three. We expect to have success, even though there will be a lot of challenges in Florida for our guys.”