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Women’s Tennis: Irish gear up for MAC matchup

By Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fresh off two close weekend wins, the Irish will host Western Michigan in a mid-week match-up today.

Irish coach Jay Louderback said No. 18 Notre Dame (7-3) will be ready for Western Michigan’s Mid-American Conference team that has gotten used to winning.

“They’ve gone to the NCAAs by winning their conference quite a bit in the past 15 years, 20 years,” Louderback said. “A lot of the time they’re not real talented kids, but they play smart, they’re very well coached.”

The Irish have not had a smooth season on the doubles courts thus far, and the Broncos (6-5) could prove to be a challenge from the first point of the match.

“They always play good doubles,” Louderback said. “We’ve been up-and-down in our doubles. If we would not win the double point it makes things pretty interesting.”

Not that Notre Dame can’t close a deficit. The Irish came from behind to steal wins from No. 24 Baylor and Indiana last weekend, and have now clinched five matches by winning four of the possible seven points.

“I’ve never seen this many [comebacks] in a year,” Louderback said. “You could go five years without having as many matches as we have to come back from.”

The path Irish junior Britney Sanders took to ‘ victory against Hoosiers senior and former All-American Leslie Hureau summarizesmimiced the trajectory of Notre Dame’s season. Sanders, who was named the Big East women’s player of the week Tuesday, dropped the first set and trailed 3-0 in the third set before rallying to win 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4.

“You could see her confidence even though she was down 3-0 in the third,” Louderback said. “She still felt like she could win the match.”

As the Irish enter today’s match with confidence after clawing back from 3-0 deficits, the Broncos come to the Eck Tennis Pavilion on the heels of two close losses. Western Michigan lost to Michigan State and Illinois-Chicago over the weekend by identical 4-3 deficits.

Although the Broncos doubles pairings and coaching staff may challenge the Irish, Louderback said the unusual, mid-week timing of the match will not.

“We would be practicing that day anyway,” Louderback said.
The Irish return to the courts to face Western Michigan at the Eck Tennis Pavilion at 5 p.m. today.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu