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ND WOMEN’S TENNIS: Doubles is the key for No. 21 Irish

Anne Loughery | Wednesday, January 26, 2005

If last year is any indication, the No. 20 Wolverines will be clawing for every point they can get in today’s match.

Last season, No. 21 Notre Dame nearly overpowered Michigan on the Wolverines’ home courts 4-3, earning three of the six singles points and forcing three tiebreakers.

This time, the competition looks to be just as tough.

“Both teams are real deep and strong at the top [of the lineup],” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. Every match is going to be a big one. It’s going to come down to who competes the best.”

What may decide the winner of Wednes-day’s match will be the doubles point, Louder-back said. Winning the doubles point gives the team the confidence and momentum they need heading into singles.

“It’s always big for us to start off 1-0,” Louderback said. “That ta-kes the pressure off of singles because then we only have to win three singles matches instead of four to win.”

Louderback added he is confident in the driven and determined Irish team this year, saying he expects hard-fought doubles matches.

“They love to compete,” Louderback said. “I’m excited to see how they play because they’ve had another year of experience. They’ve had a chance to become more match tough.”

Both Michigan and Notre Dame had the opportunity to gauge their progress last weekend against Vanderbilt. Michigan’s fell to 1-1 after losing to No. 6 Vanderbilt Saturday 5-2. The No. 21 Irish (1-1) are also recovering from a 6-1 loss to Vanderbilt.

Junior Lauren Connelly defeated Vanderbilt’s Annie Menees at No. 4 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 1-0 (10-6), collecting Notre Dame’s only point of the match. At No. 3, sophomore Christian Thompson kept No. 116 Amanda Fish on her toes, forcing a tiebreaker match before falling 2-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.

Thompson and sister Catrina also added to the Irish effort, claiming a win at No. 1 doubles 8-6 over No. 35 Audra Falk and Menees. The No. 2 Thomp-sons are 10-2 this season and 7-1 against nationally ranked opponents.

After Sunday’s hard-fought Vanderbilt match, Louder-back says the team is eager to get back on the courts to prove just how much potential they possess.

“The kids know they have a tough schedule,” Louder-back said. They know they have to come out and play and compete in every match. They’re ready to get back and compete.”

The two teams face off today at 4 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.