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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish look for fifth straight win over Michigan

Dan Masterton | Thursday, January 31, 2008

Notre Dame has won four straight matches against Michigan.

Tonight, they’ll look for a fifth.

The No. 9 Irish travel to the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. to face the No. 23 Wolverines.

Irish coach Jay Louderback is 16-3 in this rivalry – which he says always charges up his team.

“Being Michigan, our kids are always up for it,” Louderback said.

The Wolverines are coming off back-to-back 7-0 losses at the hands of Vanderbilt and Kentucky and are looking for their first win of the season.

Louderback is not taking them lightly, however.

“Their opponents have been very good. They’ve had two or three three-set matches, and they’re young,” he said. “They’re playing two or three freshmen. I look for them to be tougher Thursday than in the first two matches.”

For Notre Dame’s part, the Irish want to shake off an upset loss to No. 16 Vanderbilt from last weekend.

Despite winning the pivotal doubles point 3-0 and 2-1 in their first two matches, Louderback is not satisfied with the play from his pairs.

“Yesterday we switched around a little bit and tried some different things, and we’re going to do more of that [in practice Wednesday],” Louderback said.

The coach is continuing to mix and match his players to find the best combinations to complement his top team of Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft, ranked No. 3 in the nation.

Although none of Michigan’s players or doubles teams are ranked, Louderback respects the Wolverines.

“We always know they’re going to be good. They’re a tough team,” Louderback said.

Junior Chisako Sugiyama is the Wolverines’ top player. She entered the dual season second on Michigan’s all-time winning percentage list, at just under 75 percent of her matches. She won 18 of 21 dual matches last year and went undefeated in Big Ten play.

Overall, Louderback is pleased with his team’s preparation, but he knows that playing on the road against a good indoor team will be challenging.

“We had a great week of practice, but they’ve got good indoor players who hit the ball really big,” the coach said.

Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Michigan 18-8.