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Sports

Irish look to get season underway at Northwestern Invitational

| Thursday, September 29, 2016

This weekend, Notre Dame will take to the road to compete in the Northwestern Invitational held in Evanston, Illinois.

At the Invitational, according to Irish head coach Jay Louderback, the competition will be tough.

“The tournament is at Northwestern and four Big Ten teams and one SEC team will be there, so it’s going to be a lot of teams that are top 40 in the country,” Louderback said. “So it should be really good for us. We’ve been practicing for the last month with each other and I think our kids are tired of beating up on each other. They’re ready to play some other players.”

In addition to being a chance to compete, Louderback also views this tournament as a way to gauge his team and its standing in the ACC as they head into the season.

“Quite a few teams will be in the top 40, so I feel like it will give us a good indication of how we can fare this season in the ACC because the ACC is maybe the top women’s tennis conference in the country,” Louderback said.

With a new season also comes new doubles teams, a factor that Louderback is excited to see play out this weekend.

“We’re probably going to have all new doubles teams from a year ago,” Louderback said. “We have a couple of seniors in the lineup for doubles, so we’re excited to see some different players playing together in doubles.”

The team has been working hard in practice to ensure it gets the season started on the right foot, and Louderback is proud of the efforts the players have so far put in.

“For the last three weeks, we’ve been playing more against each other in practice and it’s been very good,” Louderback said. “We’ve got a bunch of kids who are good competitors and I feel like we’ve gotten to play in those situations in practice, which have been really good for us to get ready for this tournament. Our main thing to get ready for the spring is to play a lot of match time in the fall.”

Overall, Louderback and his team are excited for this weekend as a chance to take what they’ve been doing in practice forward into live competition.

“I think our big thing right now is we’re wanting to get matches in and see us playing against other players and teams,” Louderback said. “We’ve been working on some things, so we’re not worried as much about wins and losses this fall as much as our kids getting used to playing. If they’ve changed any strokes or are doing something different, they’re going to get a chance to do that under match conditions. Plus we have four freshmen that are all going to play in their first tournament, so we’re looking forward to seeing them play for their first time against college players.

“Our big thing is we want our kids to play loose and go out and play hard and not worry about anything. All they want to do is play how they have been in practice.”

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