Sachire, No. 1 men's seed, last American in tourney; Notre Dame junior makes clay-court quarterfinals


Even though its football team is winless in three games and the university is due sanctions and/or probation for violations of NCAA rules, not everyone at Notre Dame is on a losing streak.

Ryan Sachire, for instance, is having a heck of a week on the tennis courts at Pikesville's Suburban Club.

With a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Fresno State's Olivier Le Jeune yesterday, the junior from Ohio moved into this morning's quarterfinals at the T. Rowe Price National Intercollegiate Clay Court Championships. Which was expected, considering he's the No. 1 men's seed.

But then you ask, how could a hard court-playing American draw top seeding with clay-court specialists from Europe and South America crowding the tournament field?

Sachire, who goes against Mississippi State's Marco Baron at 8: 30 a.m. today, is the lone American among eight quarterfinalists. But that is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, since the clay tourney became part of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's grand-slam setup in 1986, no American has won the title.

"The reason I got the top seed is I finished fifth after the hard-court season last spring, and I still hold the highest national ranking [No. 2] here," Sachire said.

Then he had on-the-job training here the last two years and got some heavy-duty training on the surface this summer.

"With three wins [over foreign players] so far, I'm ecstatic," he said, explaining: "Two years ago, I was beaten by a player from Sweden in the first round. Last year, after a win, I lost to Guillermo Legat, of South Carolina. He went all the way to the semifinals."

Sachire, Baron and Virginia Commonwealth's Daniel Andersson are the only seeds remaining in the quarters. Alabama's Francisco Rodriguez, a semifinalist last year and No. 2 seed, succumbed to Arkansas' Oskar Johansson, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in one of two upsets. New Mexico's Matt Angwerd, a qualifier, beat American Brian Vahaly, the No. 4 seed from Virginia, 6-2, 6-1.

In women's semifinals, beginning at 10 a.m. today, San Diego State's Zuzana Lesenarova, the top seed and defending champion, and Katarina Valkyova will take on Ole Miss' Celeste Frey and Ivona Mihailova, respectively.

Frey and Mihailova won in straight sets yesterday. Lesenarova was extended to three sets, and Valkyova had to win two tough tie-breakers to advance.

The men's semifinals are to start at noon, or after the women's semifinals, with the finals listed for 9 a.m. (men) and 11 a.m. (women) tomorrow. Doubles will follow singles both days.

Pub Date: 9/25/99

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