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ND Women’s Tennis

Irish squad opens ACC slate with pair of road contests

| Thursday, February 19, 2015

After splitting last weekend’s matches at Indiana and Illinois, Notre Dame will hit the road again this weekend with trips to Louisville and Pittsburgh.

The 26th-ranked Irish (4-3) will officially kick off their slate of ACC matches Friday afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky, when they take on the No. 74 Cardinals (9-3, 1-0 ACC) before traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers (2-4, 0-1).

Following a disappointing 4-3 loss to the Hoosiers on Sunday, the Irish have begun to refocus before the action-packed weekend ahead of them, Irish coach Jay Louderback said.

“[Tuesday] was our first practice back, and we had a really great practice,” Louderback said. “I was disappointed [with the loss to Indiana]. The team was disappointed. But the kids were all fired up and ready to go once we started practice. You know, we play every match tough, with the ACC and our difficult nonconference schedule as well, and they know, especially on the road, we’re going to have some losses.

“We weren’t too happy, but as soon as we got back to practice we regrouped and are looking forward to starting ACC play this weekend.”

After a nonconference schedule that featured traditional Big Ten and Pac-12 rivals, Notre Dame will now turn its attention to conference opponents. However, not much strategy will be changing with the new opponents, Louderback said.

“We’re not really going to do anything different,” Louderback said. “We do make a switch in the format, with doubles going up to eight now. We go back to that this weekend, back to that format pretty much the rest of the year. In practice we’ve been working on the no-ad, and now we’re switching back to regular scoring. It’s a change that we need to get used to again. It makes it seem like the game lasts forever. That’s a big, main adjustment.”

Both Louisville and Pittsburgh will present early challenges for the Irish, Louderback said.

“Louisville — we saw them this fall in our tournament,” Louderback said. “They only brought four or five players, so it’ll be a new look this weekend. And they’re going to be a different team from last year, with some graduating seniors. They’re young, definitely a team we haven’t seen much of. It’ll be interesting to see how that match goes because they are young, and, for many of them, it’s their first time through the ACC.

“Pitt’s basically the same team as last year. We won the match [7-0]. But if you look closely at the box score, it was a lot closer than it seemed. We had some tight matches. We played them here outdoors last year, so it’ll be interesting to see how they are at home and indoors. We definitely will not be taking them lightly by any means.”

Notre Dame will take on Louisville on Friday at 4 pm and will head to Pittsburgh for an 11 a.m. match with the Panthers on Sunday.

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