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Men’s Tennis to Host BIG EAST Championship Tournament

Apr 17, 2013, 4:43 PM EDT

photo by Mike Bennett/Lighthouse Imaging

This weekend is going to be a busy one at Notre Dame. Aside from the softball, baseball, men’s lacrosse, and the Blue-Gold Game, everyone’s invited to come watch Notre Dame men’s tennis host the BIG EAST Championship Tournament. Consider this your formal invitation.

The event: BIG EAST Conference Championship

The last time they compete for the BIG EAST title, Notre Dame men’s tennis will be doing it at home. Not only do the Irish get to play at home, but they’re also the #1 seed in the tournament, and have had an outstanding season in the BIG EAST Conference. They are 3-0 in conference matches, and just this spring, four members of the Notre Dame squad have won BIG EAST Player of the Week nine times–junior Greg Andrews (5) , freshman Quentin Monaghan (1), senior Blas Moros (1), and junior Billy Pecor (2). The tournament begins on Thursdsay, April 18, at 9 AM and will last through Sunday afternoon.

The location: Courtney Tennis Center, Notre Dame, IN

Because it’s Notre Dame’s last year as a member of the BIG EAST and Coach Bobby Bayliss’ last of 26 years at Notre Dame, this tournament will be special. The one word everybody used was “excited.” Juniors Billy Pecor and Ryan Bandy recognized the “lasts”:

“We are definitely excited to host this year. It’s the last BIG EAST Championship and we’ve been waiting for this for an entire year. Notre Dame hasn’t won a BIG EAST Championship in a few years and we are so pumped for the opportunity to win the last one at [home] in Coach’s last year.” – Billy Pecor

“[We’re] extremely excited about having the opportunity to host BIG EAST at home this year. Since it is Coach Bayliss’ last year, we think it is a great opportunity to send him out with great memories at home.” – Ryan Bandy

Soon-to-be Head Coach Ryan Sachire and Moros are both looking forward to the home crowd:

“It is always a thrill to play home matches at Notre Dame in front of our crowd, but hosting the BIG EAST Tournament is particularly special this season since it is Notre Dame’s last year in the conference that has been such a great home for our program.” – Coach Sachire

“It is always great being able to play at home on your own courts and in front of your home crowd. It doesn’t happen too often and we are ready to take advantage of this opportunity.” – Blas Moros

The contenders: #1 Notre Dame, #2 Louisville, #3 USF, #4 Marquette, #5 Georgetown, #6 Villanova, #7 DePaul, #8 Connecticut, and #9 St. John’s

“Nine BIG EAST schools play men’s tennis and will have teams in the field this weekend.  We respect all of them and will be prepared to play whomever we face in each round of the tournament,” said Coach Sachire. “That being said, Louisville is the three-time defending champion and is more than capable of winning the event again this season.  South Florida is the only other member of the BIG EAST (besides Notre Dame and Louisville) to have won the conference championship in the last decade, and like Louisville, I’m sure they will have thoughts of winning again this year.  Regardless of who we play, our mindset will be the same from day to day, and our focus will be on playing our best tennis and outcompeting our opponent.”

Pecor and Moros agreed that Louisville and USF are the rivals, but every team is a team to watch out for.

“South Florida and Louisville have been our BIG EAST rivals for many years and we have had some very close matches in the past. We played both of them in the last two weeks and although we won against both, they will leave it all on the court come BIG EAST. I wouldn’t say we are concerned about any of the teams, but we know we must stay focused because it will be intense.” – Billy Pecor

“We are going to take it one match at a time but our biggest rivals in the BIG EAST are [USF] and Louisville. They are really tough competitors and we always have great matches with them but right now we are only focused on our first round matchup.” – Blas Moros

The preparation: Sunshine, sleep, and the same old same old 

Aside from changing some doubles lineups before the April 6 matchup against USF, the team has done nothing different in preparation for this tournament.

“Honestly, we have been trying to treat this week just like every other week in our season. We have continued the same practice and training schedules that we have had all year and will continue to do so throughout the remainder of our preparation,” reported Sachire. “Our players feel really good about the routine that we have followed since January, and it’s great to be able to maintain that continuity in our approach as the season unfolds.”

However, because this tournament is scheduled to be played outdoors, the team has been trying to get outside some more. Senior Blas Moros said, “We have been going about practice and our daily lives no differently than we normally would. We have been working hard in practice and in the weight room and will continue that routine this week. Although it looks like we might be indoors for a portion of [the tournament] because of weather, we are trying to get outside as much as possible.”

While Moros is catching rays, Pecor is catching z’s: “Personally I have been focusing on getting plenty of sleep to be physically ready. The energy level of the team practices have been great in the past few weeks and this had been tremendous leading into our dual match play. We are preparing the same way for the BIG EAST as any other match(es) and know what we must do to win.”

The strength: The Lineup

“The biggest strength of our team this season is the depth and balance that our roster has. It has been a complete team effort all year long for us, and we wouldn’t have won nearly as many matches as we have to this point if we didn’t have several players step up and contribute in a big way.  Ten different players have started ten or more matches for us this season, and every single one of these guys has won huge matches for us.  We may honestly be the only team in the country who has had that many players win that many quality matches for the program.  Coach Bayliss and I feel really comfortable with any combination of these ten players in our starting lineup, and we will certainly continue to utilize all of our depth in the postseason.” – Coach Sachire

“We recently switched up some of the doubles pairings and have had a lot of success with that in our last couple of matches and I think that trend will continue going into the weekend. We have been very tough all year throughout our singles line-up and feel very confidently that we can go toe-to-toe at every position with anyone in the BIG EAST. I am very much looking forward to this weekend and know my teammates feel the same way.” – Blas Moros

“We changed some of our doubles lines before the SMU and south Florida matches a few weekends ago and so far we’ve had some good doubles results. I still believe our singles line up is our strength, however I think it’s even stronger when we put up good doubles results.” – Billy Pecor

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