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ND WOMEN’S TENNIS: No. 2 netters battle injuries on road trip

Dan Maloof | Friday, March 30, 2007

After soundly defeating Wisconsin 7-0 last week, Notre Dame moved up to No. 2 in the ITA rankings and will seek its 12th straight victory today when the Irish travel to Arkansas City, Kan., to take on No. 28 Wichita State.The Irish, who boast a 16-1 overall record, will most likely be shorthanded again this weekend, according to Notre Dame coach Jay Louderback.”Yeah we’re still struggling [with injuries],” Louderback said. “We’ll probably have two out. The same two, [Brook] Buck and [Colleen] Rielley, will probably miss this weekend and we’re hoping they’re going to be back next week.”The injury bug certainly did not seem to faze the Irish last Thursday in Madison where they handled the Badgers, losing a total of three games in the singles matches on their way to victory. Louderback was forced to juggle the lineup against Wisconsin, and he hopes that his players will continue to respond well to the changes.”We moved a few of our doubles teams around a little bit with Buck out and we’ve got a couple new doubles teams that we’re going to play this weekend so we’ll see how they do,” he said.Notre Dame’s opponent, No. 28 Wichita State, has an impressive 15-1 overall and will be riding a four match-winning streak when the teams meet today. Louderback realizes that this matchup will probably not be easy. “It should be good,” he said. “Wichita State has only lost one match. They’ve got mostly international kids and they’ve got a lot of young kids that have just come in, so it’s hard to tell how good they are. They lost 4-3 to Ohio State and that’s really been the only tight match they’ve had.”The Irish, who will be competing for the first time in over a week, have slightly shifted their focus during practice this week as they continue their stretch of outdoor matches. “We had the weekend off so the kids had a little bit of rest and we haven’t played a whole lot of matches,” Louderback said. “We’ve just drilled a lot and worked on strokes, just not playing quite as much as we usually do and it was good because [Wednesday] was the first day we’ve been indoors so we were able to get outside Monday and Tuesday, which is key for us right now.”In addition to playing Wichita State today, Notre Dame will wrap up the weekend when it battles No. 37 Tulsa in Oklahoma Sunday. With his team on a roll, Louderback likes his chances over the weekend.”All of our kids have been playing really well, playing with a lot of confidence, so I feel pretty good about it,” he said.