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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish to face familiar foe

Vicky Jacobsen | Friday, February 1, 2013


The Irish got a good look at Tennessee last weekend. This Sunday, the two squads will see who made better use of the early scouting report.

Although Notre Dame did not play Tennessee at the ITA Kick-Off last weekend, the No. 18 Irish (3-1) were on hand to watch the No. 25 Lady Vols (0-2) fall 4-3 against both No. 17 Nebraska and No. 22 Georgia Tech. The coaches can add these new observations to an already extensive scouting report.

“We play each other every year, and we’ve played each other in the NCAAs quite a bit, so we know each other pretty well,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “We always have tight matches with them.”

Although Tennessee did not win a dual match at the ITA Kick-Off, Louderback said Tennessee’s top two players – No. 23 junior Brynn Boren and No. 25 senior Kata Szekely – make Tennessee a tough team to beat.

“Last week all four teams were pretty even; [Tennessee is] right about where we are,” Louderback said. “Their No. 1 doubles team is very good also, so it will be a good test for the top of our lineup this weekend.

“Their doubles are always very good, we’re usually very strong in the doubles too, so that’s something we usually have an advantage over teams but against them we really don’t because their doubles are very good, also.”

The Irish have long focused extra attention on the doubles game, but Boren and Szekely are the No. 12 doubles tandem in the country, several places ahead of Notre Dame’s No. 20 duo, juniors Julie Sabacinski and Britney Sanders.

“Their doubles are always very good, and we’re usually very strong in the doubles, too,” Louderback said. “We usually have an advantage over teams, but against them we really don’t.”

Notre Dame has only had one easy win so far: a 7-0 sweep over Bowling Green on Jan. 18. The other three matches have been 4-3 nail-biters, with Notre Dame winning two against Illinois and Georgia Tech and losing the third to Nebraska. Louderback said these early tests can help his team as they head into the bulk of their spring schedule.

“I feel good about how our kids have played under pressure against some good teams,” Louderback said. “To win 4-3 games against those teams is not easy to do, and I think they’re feeling more comfortable playing matches. 

“We haven’t played since the first of November, so it’s just getting into the matches, getting used to playing against other opponents, and I thought our kids have handled it really well so far.”

The Irish and Volunteers will hit the courts at the Eck Tennis Pavilion at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu