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ND Women’s Tennis

Irish enter fall season with youth, seek to improve for spring

| Thursday, September 28, 2017

This weekend, Notre Dame begins its fall campaign and heads to its first tournament of the season — the Northwestern Invitational.

Irish senior Allison Miller returns a hit during Notre Dame's 5-2 victory over Purdue on Feb. 22 at Eck Tennis Pavilion. Observer File Photo

Irish senior Allison Miller returns a hit during Notre Dame’s 5-2 victory over Purdue on Feb. 22 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Although the Irish participated in the tournament last year, four out of 10 faces on the team are new. Due to the team consisting of one junior and two seniors, Irish head coach Jay Louderback said everyone is transitioning into match mode and double teams are in flux.

“With such a new group we’ve been working very hard on doubles,” Louderback said. “We’re just looking to see who should be playing together. We have three tournaments in the fall. Right now we are planning on mixing our double teams up for all three so we can get a good handle on who we want to play together for the spring. Also for the fall, a lot of kids will practice and workout in the summer, but they don’t play matches. So part of the fall is to play a lot of matches and get ready for the spring. We spend two days a week basically just playing. Now it’s all about getting them into a playing mode.”

With the majority of the team underclassmen, Louderback noted the seniors have embraced the opportunity to assist their teammates’ transition. During the upcoming tournament, all the younger players will be paired with an older player for doubles. Senior Allison Miller will play with freshman Caroline Dunleavy, sophomore Zoe Spence will play with freshman Cameron Corse, junior Rachel Chong with freshman Ally Bojczuk, and sophomore Hayden Siegfried with freshman Evangeline Shannon.

“We are pretty young,” Louderback said. “We have four freshmen and three sophomores, seven of our 10 are in the two youngest classes. We only have two seniors and one junior, but I really feel good about them with leadership. They’ve really enjoyed freshman and have been excited about having them here. I feel like the older ones are doing a great job, they put a lot of interest in them and are doing things outside of practice time with them which will help us later on in the year.”

Despite being a new season with new players on the court, Louderback commented that the ACC schedule remains challenging as ever.

“The ACC is always very good,” Louderback said. “Every year it’s arguably the best women’s tennis conference in the country. Last year, we had several teams tie for fifth place. If we would have won one more match, we would have been in fourth place. Two years ago we had nine of our 14 matches 4-3. Every match you play you know you have a chance to win, but you also have a chance to lose. You have to be ready every match you play in this conference.”

As the challenging season lies ahead, Louderback said the main goal is to have the team prepared to take on the spring season.

“The fall is mainly to get back into playing mode,” Louderback said. “We try to get settled with double teams for spring. In the spring we start with double teams and switch some, but we like to at least know who we will start out playing with. In the long term, we mainly want to do well in the ACC tournament and NCAAs, but we have some time before that.”

The Irish look to get back in the swing of things at the Northwestern Invitational. The tournament begins Friday at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center, with competition extending through Sunday.

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