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Women’s Tennis: Team suffers close loss to Northwestern

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 11, 2008

When the nation’s top-ranked team has continuously dominated its opponents and heads into town, at first, a 4-3 loss seems disheartening. For No. 16 Notre Dame, this was exactly the case after a close loss against No. 1 Northwestern.

Although the loss was frustrating, Irish head coach Jay Louderback realizes that his squad can compete with any team the country has to offer.

“Well they weren’t happy,” Louderback said of his team after the defeat. “And they shouldn’t be. But after a loss like that, you know you’re right there. Northwestern has been dominating teams throughout the season. Besides their one loss, they’ve completely dominated. It was their first 4-3 win all season, so we know we’re right there.”

With that being said, the Irish are looking to close out their season this weekend with a pair of Big East opponents in DePaul on Friday and Marquette Sunday at the Courtney Tennis Center.

Part of the reason as to why the Irish were competitive against the Wildcats is because they went into the contest knowing that they could compete with the nation’s best team.

“We for sure thought that we could go in there and win,” Louderback said. “I thought we needed to win one of our four, five and six matches to win the match, but that just didn’t happen. We had great wins at two and three, and losing all the singles matches that we did as close as they were hurt. Overall, we played okay, but not well enough to pull out the win.”

Needless to say, the squad was frustrated and disappointed with themselves.

“They were pretty disappointed that they had the chance to win, but couldn’t get it,” Louderback said. “When you have the chance to win against the No. 1 team in the nation and it doesn’t come through, you’re going to be frustrated. We’ve moved on though and we know that we can go into Big East play and compete with anyone.”

As it has been throughout the nine-game streak, the doubles play set the tone for the match against the Wildcats. The nation’s top pair of senior Brook Buck and junior Kelcy Tefft took care of their opponents 8-2. Coupled with an 8-5 victory from sophomores Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley, Notre Dame was able to secured the first point of the match heading into singles play.

The Irish suffered a setback in the No. 1 singles when Tefft fell in straight sets, putting the score at 1-1.

The No. 2 and 3 singles stepped up to the spotlight and came up with huge victories as Buck and Ciobanu both handled their opponents.

The lower half of the singles group is where the Wildcats made up the difference of the match and overcame a 3-1 deficit to pull out the victory.

Now that the nine-game winning streak Notre Dame had compiled is over, the squad cannot afford a letdown this weekend, and needs to keep winning as they head into Big East play.

“We had a great practice today,” Louderback said of Thursday’s session. “They came out fired up after Northwestern. DePaul is a very athletic team. They have a bunch of talent all around. It’s also the first time they’ve been healthy in a long time so we know what they can do.

“We played well against Northwestern, and lost, so now we can’t afford a letdown.”