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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish hope for good weather

Vicky Jacobsen | Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Everyone enjoys sunshine, but the Irish have reason for hoping the weather holds for today’s home match against No. 14 Northwestern – namely, the Wildcats’ dominance on indoor courts.

“They’ve been very good historically, especially indoors,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “They’ve won the national indoor [championship] once or twice. They’re deep, and they’re good at the top of their lineup usually, so they’re always a good team. The last five years they’ve been ranked as high as No. 1 in the country.”

Louderback said Northwestern (10-7, 4-1 Big 10) has a special advantage on indoor courts because of the geography of their Evanston, Ill., campus.

“They’re right on the lake, so even when the weather’s nice in a lot of areas, like in downtown Chicago or even here, it seems colder there,” Louderback said. “Even though we’re not that far away, we still are able to get outdoors a lot more than they are. They just don’t get out a whole lot, so they practice indoors.”

The Wildcat style of play fits well with the indoor game, Louderback said.

“They usually have kids that like to hit the ball pretty big, which is good indoors,” Louderback said. “They have to play a lot of indoor tennis – that’s pretty much all they do -­­­­ and the game they play is suited to indoor.”

The No. 18 Irish (14-5, 3-0 Big East) and the Wildcats have developed something of a rivalry over the past few years.

“In the last ten years we’ve both been in the top-10 in the country a lot, and so we’ve been in some big matches with them,” Louderback said. “It’s always been a good rivalry – they have good kids that play fair and play hard. But we’ve both been ranked high and we’ve both played each other when the other team was ranked higher and knocked them off, and it’s been some good matches with them.”

Louderback said the rivalry has been heightened because the teams often meet in the NCAA tournament.

“If one of us isn’t a host site for the NCAAs – if one of us isn’t in the top-16 – we almost always play each other,” Louderback said. “If we’re not in [the top-16], we end up playing our first and second round at Northwestern; if they’re not in the top-16 and we are, they come here. So that’s part of it, too. We play not only once during the year, but we’ve played a lot regionally at the NCAA tournament, too.”

The Wildcats are coming off a 6-1 road win over Wisconsin on Sunday, while the Irish swept DePaul 7-0 on Saturday. This match is the first of a tough three-match side that will also pit Notre Dame against No. 11 Baylor and No. 16 Texas A&M.

“We’re at the point now where it’s important for us just to win as many matches as we can,” Louderback said. “We play three teams in a row that are ranked ahead of us, which is a great opportunity for us.”

The Irish will offer serve against Northwestern at the Courtney Tennis Center – weather permitting – at 4 p.m. Wednesday.


Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu