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ND WOMEN’S TENNIS: Notre Dame to rely on depth in weekend matches

Ann Loughery | Friday, April 8, 2005

Confidence and composure will be essential to No. 28 Notre Dame’s success this weekend as it challenges No. 16 William and Mary in the final home meet of the season Saturday and No. 35 Indiana at Bloomington Sunday.

With last weekend’s 5-2 win over Long Beach State, the team demonstrated it is more than prepared to take on the potent William and Mary and Indiana teams. Notre Dame’s (9-8) ability to remain poised under pressure will ultimately determine the outcome of this weekend’s matches.

“We’ve had a couple of tight matches this season where it’s come down to 4-3,” Louderback said. “I think these matches will be like that, but I think our kids are getting more used to those kinds of matches. It will just be a matter of going out and playing.”

While the match against William and Mary will be a crucial one for the team, it will be one of special importance to Sarah Jane Connelly because it will be her last home match donning an Irish uniform.

“It will be hard to see her leave,” Louderback said. “She’s been good at doubles all year and she’s been playing well at singles. She started stepping up at just the right time, exactly when we needed her. She’s been a good leader for us on and off the courts.”

More recently, Connelly has assumed a position at No. 5 singles as part of the adjusted lineup since sophomore Christian Thompson was sidelined with a knee injury. Junior Lauren Connelly has also been playing in Christian’s No. 3 position, junior Kiki Stasnty has been competing at No. 4, and junior Liz Donohue has rounded out the lineup at No. 6. Christian Thompson is expected to retain her position at No. 1 singles with sister Catrina in this weekend’s meets.

Despite Notre Dame’s talent-laden lineup, defeating the Tribe of William and Mary (15-2) will be a tough chore. In their most recent meet, the Tribe bested No. 48 Virginia Commonwealth, 6-1, winning five singles matches and two doubles matches.

William and Mary also boasts three ranked singles players – No. 34 Megan Moulton-Levy, No. 122 Candice Fuchs and No. 62 Megan Muth. Fuchs and Moulton-Levy also represent the Tribe in national rankings, coming in at No. 23. The duo of Muth and Amy Wei are ranked No. 48.

Louderback said he predicts a tight and emotion-charged match against William and Mary, especially considering it is Notre Dame’s last home meet.

“William and Mary is just a solid team all around,” Louderback said. “But I think we can play with them. We just have to take one match at a time.”

No. 36 Indiana (10-8) looks to be just as competitive as they return to the courts after a 5-2 win over No. 35 Wisconsin. Indiana nearly swept doubles, with victories at Nos. 1 and 2, and were just as successful in singles with wins at Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 5.

Louderback expects the in-state rivalry will add to the competitive atmosphere.

“We always have a good, clean match with Indiana,” Louderback said.

“I think all of our kids are looking forward to competing. It should be a really tight match.”

Notre Dame faces William and Mary at 10 a.m. at the Courtney Tennis Center and Indiana at Bloomington at 11 a.m.