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ND Women’s Tennis: Eastern Domination

Dan Maloof | Thursday, April 19, 2007

After another remarkable regular season, the Irish will take their 23-2 record into the Big East tournament today as a No. 1 seed for the 11th time in the team’s 12 years in the conference.

In addition, Notre Dame has reached the finals of the tournament all 11 years and won the championship seven times, including the last two years. Historically, the Irish have won 38 of 40 matches against current Big East opponents.

Although the team is getting used to being the No. 1 seed in the tournament, it is still very honored by the distinction, Notre Dame coach Jay Louderback said.

“We had been [the No. 1 seed] for a few years so I think our kids are used to it,” Louderback said. “It just reflects what a good season we’ve had and how well we’ve played this year.”

On Friday, the Irish rebounded nicely from an upset defeat to Northwestern by soundly beating DePaul and Marquette. The loss to Northwestern was the team’s first in 17 matches.

Regarding health issues, Louderback said that aside from a few small lingering injuries, the team should pretty much be at full strength.

“We’ll be all right,” Louderback said. “[Junior] Brook Buck is probably going to play some doubles this week, and we’re just going to wait and see. She went through full practice today and was a little sore but not too bad, and then we have just a few other nicks, but I think we should have all of our players.”

The Irish have three days off before the tournament begins and also have a bye in the first round, which gives them one more day between matches. Louderback said any extra day of rest and practice the team can get will be beneficial.

“That’s really good,” Louderback said of the bye. “Getting that bye also gives us an extra day to practice and get outdoors so that’s good too.”

When the Irish play their second round match Friday at the University of South Florida, they will face either Seton Hall or Connecticut, depending on who wins today’s matchup.

Louderback has not been able to see much of either team so far this season, but after he watches today’s match, he hopes to have a good idea of what to expect.

“I haven’t really had a chance to look at them yet,” Louderback said. “We just found out the draw yesterday, and I’ll get a chance to see them play [today], but we really haven’t seen much of them at all this season. We’ll know better [today].”

Practice will be key for the Irish as they prepare for another difficult test Friday. At this point, Louderback said the most important thing his team can do is get plenty of repetitions outdoors, where the championship matches will be played.

“Our big thing now for the next three or four days is to be able to get outside,” Louderback said. “[Tuesday] was beautiful and we had a chance to hit outside. We played quite a few singles and doubles points [Tuesday] just to get good outdoors. We’ll probably do quite a bit of playing the next few days.”

When asked what it would be like to win the Big East championship for the third consecutive year, Louderback was hesitant to look too far into the future.

“It would be nice,” Louderback said. “I think it’s going to be tough because there are some good teams for our first match, and then if we win that, it could be Marquette or West Virginia. We just played Marquette but three of their kids were out of the lineup, and if they’re back in the lineup, they’re dangerous.

“No one is going to just hand it to us and say, ‘You win it’ – they’re really going to make us play.”