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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish look to build upon No. 2 finish at ITAs

Chris Hine | Friday, February 9, 2007

On the heels of their second-place finish at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships last weekend – the best in program history – the Irish resume dual meet play today against Big East foe Louisville at 2 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“It’s our first Big East team we play and they are always big matches,” Notre Dame coach Jay Louderback said.

Louderback said the No. 3 Irish (5-1) will use this match against the No. 71 Cardinals as an opportunity to sit at least one of three players who need to miss a match this spring because they played too much in the fall.

“[Seniors Christian and Catrina Thompson] and [sophomore] Kelcy Tefft have to sit out a match, and we may sit out one or two on Friday,” Louderback said. “We won’t decide who will sit until Friday morning. They’ve had some injury problems so we’ll see where they’re at Friday morning.”

Louisville enters the contest after dropping its last two matches against Troy and SMU, and the team has struggled with illness and injuries to multiple team members. Meanwhile, the Irish are recovering from their 4-2 loss against No. 1 Georgia Tech in the ITA Team Indoor Finals Sunday.

“I thought we played well against Georgia Tech,” Louderback said. “We definitely had a chance to win it if we could’ve won the doubles point. [Georgia Tech] played a lot more confident after they got the doubles point.”

Sunday’s match marked the first time in 10 tournament appearances the Irish advanced to the finals of the ITA Indoors, a tournament that featured many top-ranked teams from across the country.

“[How we played there] gave us the confidence that we can play with anyone in the country,” Louderback said. “There are 10-15 teams that could win the NCAA Tournament this year, and that’s a good thing.”

Freshman Cosmina Ciobanu continued her strong play at the tournament, winning each of the four singles matches she played. Ciobanu finished second to fellow freshman Colleen Rielley at the ITA Midwest Regionals in October and has a 6-0 record so far in dual match play.

“[Ciobanu is] a great competitor,” Louderback said. “She volleys well, hits ground strokes well and serves well. She’s got a lot of speed and covers the court. As a freshman especially, she does a great job.”

So far this season, Notre Dame has posted four wins against teams in the ITA top-25 rankings, including a 4-3 win over No. 6 Northwestern in the semifinals of the ITA Indoors.