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ND Tennis: Louderback calm in facing Harvard

Anne Loughery | Friday, February 11, 2005

There’s just something about Boston.

Boston teams have been raking up the hardware this season, from Boston College’s come-from-behind 24-23 win over Notre Dame during football season to the Red Sox’s World Series title.

But as of late, Notre Dame has been working to reverse that trend, beginning with the basketball team’s upset of No. 4 Boston College Tuesday night.

Now, the No. 21 women’s tennis team is looking to pull off a Boston upset of its own, taking on No. 17 Harvard on Friday at 12:30 p.m. and Boston College on Sunday at 10 a.m.

Judging by the team’s impressive 5-2 victory over Wake Forest, walking away with an upset this weekend seems all the more doable.

Coach Jay Louderback said although Harvard looks to provide plenty of challenges this weekend, he has faith in the team’s character.

“My hope is that we compete like we have been,” Louderback said. “If we do, we’ll be in the match all the way.”

This competitive spirit is responsible for the team’s success against Wake Forest, Louderback said. The Irish jumped to an early lead, sweeping doubles in the Jan. 30 match. At No. 3, senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly and junior Kiki Stastny jumpstarted the Irish effort, walking off the court with an 8-1 win over Blakeley Offutt and Alisha Talbot.

Freshman Brook Buck and junior Lauren Connelly were next off the courts, clinching the doubles point with a victory over Katie Martzolf and Danielle Schwartz 8-1 at No. 2.

Adding to the team’s momentum, sophomore twins Catrina and Christian Thompson defeated No. 33 Karin Coetzee and Ashlee Davis 8-3 at No. 1. The nationally ranked No. 2 Thompsons remain unbeaten this spring and are 12-2 this year.

In singles, No. 85 Buck capitalized on the team’s momentum following, upsetting No. 16 Coetzee 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles.

Stastny clinched the win for the Irish at No. 5, with a victory over Jenna Loeb 6-3, 6-1. At No. 3 singles, Christian Thompson followed up Stastny’s win, claiming a victory over Martzolf 6-2, 6-2.

Harvard (3-1) has been just as much of a winning team as the Irish this season. Last Saturday, the Crimson upset No. 16 Texas A&M in a 4-3 decision at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships. The team swept the three doubles matches and claimed wins at Nos. 1, 5, 6 singles. Louderback said the Crimson look to be most challenging at the top of the lineup.

“We’ve been excited to play Harvard because we know they’re a very athletic team,” Louderback said. “It’s good for us to be put in a tough situation on the road against a good team.”

Although last year the Irish defeated Boston College 6-1, Louderback says he expects tough competition from the Eagles this year.

“It will be a tough match – especially playing on the road,” Louderback said. “They’re a dangerous team at home.”

Boston College (1-2) recently recorded its first victory of the spring Sunday, defeating Columbia 4-3. Although they lost the doubles point, the Eagles bounced back and garnered wins at Nos. 1, 3, 4, and 6 singles. Boston College, like Harvard, looks to present the greatest challenges for Notre Dame at the top of the lineup.

But Louderback is confident in the team’s abilities and potential.

“Our kids have very good doubles instincts and do a great job competing in singles when the matches get tough,” Louderback said. “We can only get better with more matches.”