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ND Women’s Tennis: ND coach reflects on team’s past

Matthew Robison | Thursday, October 28, 2010

In 1989, Notre Dame had been playing Division I tennis for four years, had never been to the NCAA Tournament, and never earned a spot in the national rankings. That all changed when head coach Jay Louderback arrived. Since he was hired to lead the Irish program, Louderback has led Notre Dame to 16 NCAA Tournament appearances and 15 conference titles. A year ago, the Irish finished with their best performance ever with an appearance in the semifinals. This season the Irish want to compete for a national championship again and will attempt to surpass the achievements of last season’s team.

Louderback says there are certain aspects of Notre Dame that make it a special place to coach. Among those is the ability to maintain relationships with his players beyond graduation.

“Being at Notre Dame I am able to see a lot of my former players in the fall when they come back to football games,” Louderback said. “It is always exciting to see them and their families.”

He also tries to instill a certain degree of fervor the game that both he and his players love.

“I have always tried to show the passion I have for my job and hoped [the players] can find their passion,” Louderback said.

Although Louderback has had a career loaded with success, he says the highlight of his career is a 2003 victory over then Big East rival Miami.

“We had lost to them the week before 6-1 and beat them 4-3 in the final,” Louderback said.

This year’s team, Louderback said, has its own uniqueness as well as similarities to teams he has coached in the past.

“This year is the first year that half of our team is our freshman class,” Louderback said. “With that many freshmen we are going a little slower in how we practice and the concept of how we play as a team in an individual sport.”

But, like Louderback’s teams in the past, the Irish are looking to build on their success in the past and surpass those marks.

“We do have a bunch of competitors who like to play which has helped us do well in the past,” Louderback said. “We are excited about such a young team and think we can continue to compete for a national championship.”