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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish hope to capture singles and earn wins

Katie Heit | Friday, April 12, 2013

Despite three recent losses to Big East opponents, the No. 25 Irish enter a two-match weekend with high hopes, facing Central Florida on Saturday in Orlando, Fla., and No. 57 South Florida on Sunday in Tampa, Fla. 

Senior captain Chrissie McGaffigan said the weekend will be preparation for the upcoming Big East tournament. 

“It will be great to play some matches outside to prepare for the Big East tournament,” McGaffigan said. “We will play Central Florida and South Florida, who will both be used to playing with the outdoor weather factors.” 

Due to poor weather in South Bend, the Irish (12-8) have had little practice on the outdoor courts. Playing the Knights (13-6) and the Bulls (12-6) over the course of the weekend will give Notre Dame a crash course on playing outside in the warm weather before the Irish are thrown into the Big East championships April 18. 

The Irish face other challenges outside of the environment in their matches this weekend. Sophomore Molly O’Koniewski will be unable to play due to injury, meaning another player must step into her place at No. 5 singles. 

“Some of our girls will definitely have to step up in Florida,” McGaffigan said. 

McGaffigan said the Irish need to play at the top of their ability this weekend, especially with the Big East tournament around the corner. 

“We are fighting as hard as we can in every match, knowing that our season is coming to an end and that every point matters,” McGaffigan said. 

The keys to the Irish victories this weekend will be in singles. Notre Dame’s last three losses were decided by close, three-set matches in singles play. To sweep the weekend, the Irish will need to increase their stamina and close out close matches, McGaffigan said.

The Irish take on Central Florida in Orlando, Fla., at 2 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a matchup against South Florida in Tampa, Fla., at 11 a.m. on Sunday. 

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu