The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



ND Women’s Tennis: Mathews ready to compete

Matt Robison | Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Junior Shannon Mathews admits that being a student athlete at Notre Dame is a challenging and demanding endeavor. Playing for a team that is consistently in the running for a national championship requires the utmost effort each and every day. And as a student, the University expects her to perform academically.�۬”The tradition of excellence at Notre Dame in all sports is really intimidating initially,” Mathews said.  “On the field and in the classroom, Notre Dame athletes are expected to excel.”

But Mathews would not have it any other way.

“The friendships, personal memories and bonding experiences on long road trips are things I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Mathews said.

Among the most memorable of moments during Mathews’ time at Notre Dame is the trip to the Final Four two seasons ago, the furthest the program has ever advanced in the NCAA championships. Mathews was a crucial part of the run.

“Celebrating with my teammates and coaches my freshman year when I clinched our first NCAA Final Four in history is a moment I will never forget,” Mathews said.

This season, the Irish seem poised to make another run at the Final Four. It is certainly one of their goals.

Mathews’ experience at Notre Dame has benefitted her both personally and academically, and she already realizes the value of such a career.

“It teaches you both responsibility and humility because you quickly realize that you are a part of something really unique and special,” Mathews said.

Collectively, the team has a work ethic that drives them to continuously improve. Irish coach Jay Louderback pushes his players and demands the best of them because he knows that they can achieve great things.

“I think everyone’s work ethic on our team is great,” Mathews said.  “Everyone brings a�۬high level of intensity to each practice and workout.”

Mathews describes her own playing style as an all-around game, not focusing solely on a strong serve, forehand, backhand or net play. She wants to be able to control the entire court.

“I try to play an all-court game, and am comfortable whether on the baseline or being aggressive and coming to the net,” Mathews said.

With a team loaded with freshman talent, it is particularly important for the veterans to step up and lead by example. Mathews embraces her role as a leader.

“Our freshmen have responded well,” Mathews said. “We have great team chemistry, and are looking forward to a very successful season.”

After a strong fall season, the tough Big East slew of opponents stands in the way between the Irish and another run in the NCAA tournament.

Up next for the Irish is a matchup with Yale on Jan. 29 at the Eck Tennis Center.