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ND Women’s Tennis

ND prepares for DePaul in first round

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Coming off a quarterfinal appearance at the ACC tournament last weekend, Notre Dame looks to continue its strong play as of late when NCAA tournament play opens May 9. The No. 27 Irish (16-9, 8-6 ACC) will face former Big East rival No. 46 DePaul (22-3, 4-0 Big East) in Evanston, Ill., in the first round.

Senior Jennifer Kellner returns a shot during Notre Dame's 4-3 loss to Georgia Tech on Feb. 21.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Senior Jennifer Kellner returns a shot during Notre Dame’s 4-3 loss to Georgia Tech on Feb. 21.

Last year, the Irish and DePaul met in the semifinals of the Big East Championship. Notre Dame advanced in a match that came down to the final point, with the Irish edging the Blue Demons, 4-3, en route to their sixth consecutive Big East tournament title.

This year, DePaul defeated Xavier in the Big East championship to claim its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2010. The Blue Demons have also defeated five teams ranked in the top 75, with their only losses on the year coming on the road to No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 19 Rice and No. 33 Houston.

Notre Dame was knocked out in the ACC quarterfinals, 4-2, by No. 15 Miami (Fla.) in a marathon match, though it was not due to slow play. The match was delayed twice because of lightning and rain, finally finishing indoors at the University of North Carolina, a half hour drive from the outdoor courts in Cary, N.C., where the ACC tournament was held. The match began at 11:30 a.m., and did not finish until 7:30 p.m.

“It was a long day, but our kids were fine. I felt like it didn’t bother them a bit. We handled it really well,” Louderback said. “We had chances. … I thought we played well, though, and it gives us a lot of confidence being right there against a team like that.”

While the Irish did not secure the doubles point, singles victories by sophomore Quinn Gleason and freshman Monica Robinson tied the match at 2-2 before the Hurricanes (19-5, 12-2) pulled away and clinched the semifinal berth.

“[Senior] Jennifer [Kellner] had just split sets when they got their fourth point,” Louderback said. “She had completely worn the kid out. They had had two long sets and [Kellner] had run her around. Into that second set you could see she was hurting.”

Before the loss to Miami, Notre Dame had won eight consecutive matches. The Irish also improved against the Hurricanes after losing their first matchup Feb. 23, 6-1, in Coral Gables, Fla.

The Irish now turn their attention to the NCAA tournament play and DePaul.

Since the tournament is not scheduled to begin until next week, the Irish will have an off weekend for the first time since Feb. 8-9. However, Louderback and his team will be just as busy, if not busier, than usual, preparing for the Blue Demons.

“I think a big thing now is we’ve got to work on our conditioning the next two weeks,” Louderback said. “We just have to make sure we maintain [our condition], especially during finals because it gets tough, working around their finals schedules. … We don’t get many weekends off so at the end of this week we’ll probably play quite a bit because we want to make sure we keep playing matches and sets as much as we can.”

The Irish look to keep their season alive against the Blue Demons on May 9 in Evanston, Ill. The match is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m., with the winner advancing to take on the winner of Miami (Ohio) and host No. 16 Northwestern on Saturday, May 10.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A senior History major, Zach resides in Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he has covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus.

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