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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish set to take on BYU, Utah

Alex Barker | Friday, February 20, 2009

Fresh off a 7-0 thrashing of in-state rival Purdue Wednesday, the Irish will travel cross-country to take on Brigham Young and Utah in a dual-match road trip this weekend in Provo, Utah.

No. 14 Notre Dame is currently 7-1 on the season, including six victories over ranked opponents. The Irish’s only loss came against top-ranked Northwestern in the semifinals of last weekend’s ITA Indoor National championships.

Freshman Shannon Mathews has led the Irish so far this season notching a 6-0 record at the No. 6 singles spot. Mathews’ 3-0 record at the Indoor National championship tournament resulted in her being named to the All-Tournament team. She becomes the first Irish player to receive this honor.

“Shannon has come up with big wins for us this season,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “She’s really been able to build on her success as the season has progressed.”

Louderback has been very pleased with his team’s performance so far.

“I feel really good about where we are right now,” he said. “At this point, I believe we can compete with any team in the country.”

Even with two early victories over top-five teams Baylor and Stanford, Louderback is still looking for his team to continue improving with every match.

“We have plenty of tough matches in the next few weeks and winning some close ones against top-five teams has definitely helped our confidence,” he said. “But we have some things that we have to improve on to do well at the end of the year.”

As for this stretch of matches that will give the Irish a bit of a break after facing three top-five teams in a row, Louderback won’t be taking the weaker opponents any lighter.

“Doing well last weekend puts a bigger target on your back,” he acknowledged. “So we really have to be ready for every team we play.”

After this weekend’s long road trip, the Irish will return home for a three-game stretch at the Eck Tennis Pavilion starting with North Carolina next Friday.