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Irish look to maintain dominance

Dan Maloof | Friday, April 13, 2007

The No. 2 Irish will attempt to improve to 22-1 overall as they take on No. 9 Northwestern today in Evanston, Ill. The Irish, riding a 16-match winning streak, are coming off two impressive performances over the weekend in which they easily handled both No. 34 Indiana and No. 48 Ohio State by a score of 7-0. The Irish have been battling injuries all season, but Notre Dame coach Jay Louderback hopes to get junior Brook Buck back in the lineup at some point this weekend.”We’ll know tomorrow,” Louderback said. “We’re going to try to get Brook in some doubles this weekend but we don’t know when for sure. It all depends on how she’s feeling.” The Wildcats, who have won their last four matches and seven of their last eight, will look to carry the momentum into the match after they defeated Indiana 5-2 on Easter Sunday. Louderback understands that this will not be an easy match because, at No. 9, Northwestern brings a different a different level of play to the court. “It’s going to depend on lineups,” Louderback said. “If they go with the lineup they’ve been going with, I feel pretty good about the matchups. The key is going to be doubles because they have good doubles teams and their number one team just beat the No. 1- ranked William and Mary’s number one doubles last week.” The two teams are no strangers. They faced off in the semifinals of the ITA Indoor National Tournament in February. The Irish outlasted the Wildcats 4-3 in that match, but Louderback feels that his team has improved greatly since that match.”Our freshmen aren’t freshmen anymore because they’ve played a lot of matches,” Louderback said. “I just think that we’ve gotten a lot of experience playing against a lot of good teams, and I really think our doubles depth right now is very good because all the kids have played a lot.”Due to Northwestern’s strong doubles reputation, Louderback has placed a lot of emphasis on doubles in the practices this week.”We did quite a bit of doubles work this week because doubles is going to be very important, and our singles are pretty sharp at this point because we’ve played a lot. I figured we needed to be ready to give ourselves the best shot of winning the doubles.”After battling Northwestern today, the Irish will look to finish their regular season on a high note as they take on DePaul and Marquette Saturday and Sunday, respectively.