It was announced December 17, 2012 that ITA Hall of Fame head coach Bobby Bayliss would be retiring at the conclusion of the 2013 season and associate head coach Ryan Sachire would be taking over as head coach. The 2000 Notre Dame grad started his first official day as head coach Monday, July 1, 2013 and hit the ground running as he looks to build upon a program that is routinely in the top-30 in the country and won nine BIG EAST titles during the 18 years the Irish were in the league. With the program now in the ACC, Sachire has the task of leading the program into a new era.
Just a week into his tenure as the seventh head coach in the history of the Notre Dame men’s tennis program, Sachire sat down for a brief question and answer session to talk about a variety of topics ranging from his vision for the program to his favorite food.
Last Monday was your first official day as Notre Dame’s men’s tennis head coach. How does it feel to have that title beside your name?
Obviously, it feels great to officially be the head men’s tennis coach at Notre Dame. I don’t know that I feel any different as it relates to the job, as I have tried to invest everything I had into the program as both a player and as the assistant coach. However, it’s extremely humbling to know that our athletic administration chose me to take over a successful program from such a legendary coach in Coach Bayliss, and I couldn’t be more honored to have the opportunity to serve our players, alumni, and the Notre Dame family at-large in this head coaching capacity.
What are some of the tasks you want to accomplish first now that you are head coach?
Clearly we are going to have very lofty goals for our program, and ultimately we want to be a program that is consistently among the elite in our sport. To do that, we need to have great people and a great culture. My first goal was to bring to Notre Dame one of the very best coaches in the country as our assistant coach, and I believe we accomplished that task when we hired Adam Schaechterle. Adam and I will work hand in hand in the coming months and years to recruit the best student-athletes to our program, and we will continue to develop a culture within our program that expects to have success at the highest level and embraces the work that it will take to achieve that success.
What does Notre Dame and specifically Notre Dame men’s tennis mean to you?
It’s very hard to articulate what the Notre Dame family, and specifically the ND men’s tennis program, means to me. I have spent the best 11 years of my life at Notre Dame, as both a player and an assistant coach, and I honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more out of that experience. This place has afforded and will continue to afford me the opportunity to grow, develop and work to achieve my dreams, and I am extremely thankful for that.
Talk about your relationship with Coach Bayliss (both as a player and a coach) and how he helped you get to this point in your career?
As I have said many times, Coach Bayliss is like a second father to me. He has been an incredible influence in my life for the past 17 years, and I certainly wouldn’t be in the position that I am in today without his presence and guidance. He has shown all of us that played and coached under him how to compete at the highest level of our sport while doing it with a level of class and integrity that is extremely rare. I couldn’t be more appreciative of all that he has done for me, and I hope to recognize all of his great work by building upon the unbelievably strong foundation that he has created for Notre Dame men’s tennis.
After you finished playing professionally you went to Baylor to begin your coaching career. When Coach Bayliss gave you the call and asked if you wanted to come back home, what were the first thoughts that ran through your head?
I had an incredible experience in my one year of coaching at Baylor, and my time on the Tour is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. However, nothing comes close to the feeling of playing or coaching for Notre Dame. So, for me, it was a “no-brainer.”
How would you characterize your coaching philosophy and how it will fit in with Notre Dame’s philosophy of the complete student (intellectual development, social development, spiritual development, skill development and physical development)?
Like many others here or at peer institutions of Notre Dame, I don’t see a disconnect with being an elite athlete, while at the same time excelling in the classroom and developing fully as a person. I see my job as being a teacher to our players on how to be winners in all aspects of their lives. Teaching them the work ethic necessary to be elite at one’s craft … teaching them the level of commitment and accountability necessary to be a great teammate … and teaching them the skills necessary to be leaders in whichever passions they choose to pursue in life will be some of the areas that we will focus on daily, and I believe they are qualities that transcend every aspect of our student-athletes’ lives.
What are your expectations for the program in the coming years?
My expectation is that we consistently build as a program to the point where we are among the very elite in the country on a yearly basis. As I mentioned above, the two keys for that happening in any program are the people and the culture within the program. We have some great people already in our program, and over the next few years, we will work tirelessly to recruit the best student-athletes to Notre Dame. We will also work to build on what is an already strong culture within our program. Our players experienced having some success last year by winning the Big East Championship, which meant a great deal to all of them. They earned that success by the work they put in and the dedication they had to their teammates. We are going to ask them to continue to raise the bar in that area and become as close as you can be to perfect in that area.
How would you describe the Notre Dame men’s tennis program to a potential recruit?
Notre Dame is one of the very unique places where you can have it all and strive for excellence in everything that you do. Notre Dame is a place where you can train to be a professional player and be a part of a team that achieves great things, while at the same time receiving an elite education and being a part of one of the most powerful alumni networks in the world. Perhaps the characteristic that is most unique is that our student-athletes get all of this while being a part of a special family that cares for each other unlike almost any other place in the country.
Tell everyone about your family and how Notre Dame is ingrained in your family.
Notre Dame is clearly our home and “where we are from.” My wife and I met on this campus as students, we were married in the Basilica, our two daughters were baptized in the log chapel and my wife and I both work for the University in different capacities. It’s hard to separate our family from this place, because virtually all of our important life moments took place here. Notre Dame is extremely important to all of us, and we are so thankful to be able to remain connected in such an intimate way.
Getting To Know Ryan Sachire
Band: Dave Matthews Band
TV Show: NCIS
Class or Professor While At Notre Dame: Econ Professor: William Leahy
Place On Campus: Walking by the lakes and Grotto with my family.
Personal Tennis Moment: Being named Notre Dame’s head coach
Notre Dame Tennis Moment: Winning the 2013 Big East Championship in Coach Bayliss’ final season and Notre Dame’s final year in the Big East.