ND Women’s Tennis:Irish preparing to host string of competitors
John Helms | Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Irish have suffered only one loss this season and, after a weekend off after two recent victories, they are well prepared to enter the most demanding part of the regular season.
No. 13 Notre Dame will kick off a series of home matches this weekend when it hosts Illinois Saturday for the first of five matches in eight days.
The Irish had the weekend off due to their 5-2 loss to No. 11 North Carolina Jan. 31. The loss ended Notre Dame’s three-match win streak and kept them from advancing to the National Team indoor championships’ round of 15 teams in Madison, Wisc. However, as Irish coach Jay Louderback said, sometimes things work out for the best.
“We’re going to use this weekend off and really try to make the best of it,” he said.
One of the biggest questions going into this season was the Irish’s doubles play. There hasn’t been any major concern so far, but Louderback said the team would use the weekend off to experiment a little.
“We will be mixing things around a little this weekend,” he said. “Looking at and trying out some new doubles combinations.”
After seeing how the Irish bounced back after their loss to North Carolina, the amount of experimenting needed might be minimal. In the team’s last two matches, Notre Dame responded to the pressure brilliantly, beating Kansas 7-0 and then taking what could be a season-defining victory from No. 16 Michigan.
“The Michigan match was a really good match for us,” Louderback said. “We competed really well. It was good to see us compete in a way we haven’t.”
Notre Dame pulled out a 4-3 victory after trailing virtually the entire match with a few gritty performances by Irish players to knock out the Wolverines.
“We were behind pretty much the whole match,” Louderback said. “Shannon Matthews especially hung in there after being down and Chrissie McGaffigan also pulled out a close match.”
Also winning for the Irish were senior Kali Krisik and sophomore Kristy Frilling. Frilling, the 30th-ranked player in the nation, improved her record to 6-0 this year and has been a staple at the top of the team’s line up.
“She’s always been so good, a real model of consistency,” Louderback said.
As the Irish look ahead, they are hoping to use the momentum from the victory over Michigan and their time off to propel them into a busy string of home matches. Notre Dame will face Illinois at 1 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.