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ND Women’s Tennis

Irish enter ACC play over weekend

| Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Coming off of a tough loss to age-old rival Michigan last Saturday, No. 22 Notre Dame looks to make a strong entrance as it begins ACC play on the road this weekend. The Irish will take on No. 25 Georgia Tech on Friday, then will travel down to Florida to take on No. 17 Miami on Sunday.

Irish freshman Mary Closs returns a volley during Notre Dame’s 4-3 victory over Indiana on Feb. 2 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Emmet Farnan

Irish freshman Mary Closs returns a volley during Notre Dame’s 4-3 victory over Indiana on Feb. 2 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Irish coach Jay Louderback welcomes the chance to finally begin ACC play.

“Georgia Tech’s our first ACC match, which will be great,” Louderback said. “It’s good to start playing ACC teams…but [Tech] is good. We had two tight matches with them last year, and I’m sure it will be a good and close one this year. They’re very well-coached.”

The Yellow Jackets (3-1) come into their meeting with the Irish (5-2) on a roll, having knocked off No. 27 Tennessee this past Saturday, 5-2. The Yellow Jackets will rely on strong singles play, such as that of sophomore Natasha Prokhnevska. Prokhnevska, who is 3-0 in singles play this season, won the first ACC Player of the Week award of her career after going 2-0 in singles play against the Volunteers (3-3).

As soon as they finish playing in Atlanta, the Irish must immediately focus themselves on dealing with the Hurricanes (4-2). Though Miami will have only played one match in 11 days (on Friday they take on Maryland, their first contest since the ITA National Indoor Tournament), coming into the ITA National Indoor Tournament they were ranked ninth in the nation.

When it comes to playing Miami, Louderback isn’t only concerned about the matches themselves but also the logistics that will surround them.

“The tough thing with Miami is we have to play them outdoors on Sunday,” Louderback said. “Hopefully, if our flight goes okay, we’ll get out there with time to hit outdoors on Saturday and then play them on Sunday. Which, going from indoors to outdoors, is not easy.”

Louderback also pointed out that the team had been observing the weather radar for the Miami area and noted that the temperature for Sunday’s match is projected to be around 85 degrees.

“I’m hoping it rains in Miami all week so that they can’t practice,” Louderback said drily.

All jokes aside, Louderback knows that now the Irish have really entered the challenging run of the season.

“We start off with some tough early ACC matches,” Louderback said. “We’ve just got to get a little more energy on the court when we’re playing, and I think we’ll do just that.”

The Irish will make their ACC debut against the Yellow Jackets on Friday at 4 p.m. ,then travel to Miami to take on the Hurricanes on Sunday at noon.

Contact Mike Ginocchio at mginocch@nd.edu

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