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ND Women’s Tennis: No. 3 Irish set to face top team

Alex Barker | Friday, April 3, 2009

No. 3 Notre Dame (17-3) will try to rebound from its loss earlier this week against No. 4 Baylor as it hits the road for a four-game road trip beginning with conference rival DePaul today.

The Irish will face the Blue Demons in Chicago before heading to Evanston, Ill. for a rematch with No. 1 Northwestern Saturday. Sunday, the team will head back to Chicago for a date with Marquette before ending its trip in Champaign against the Fighting Illini.

In its last outing against Baylor, the team did not play up to the ability that it has displayed all season.

“The matchups were a little different against Baylor in the singles and that hurt us,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “We also won the doubles last time and [not winning it this time] made a big difference.” 

After the setback against the Bears earlier this week, Louderback knows the importance of bouncing back in a big way this weekend.

“We really need to finish strong playing two of the top four Big East teams along with [top-ranked] Northwestern this weekend,” he said.

This weekend’s slate of games is a good preview to what Notre Dame will face heading into the Big East and NCAA Tournaments. DePaul and Marquette are two of the better teams in the conference and will present challenges to the Irish when they vie for the Big East championship in two weeks.

Northwestern, this year’s indoor national champion, has already shown that they are one of the top teams in the country and will most certainly be there in the end when the NCAA Championships roll around in mid-May.

“Playing four matches in five days, which is what you have to do at the NCAA championships, is a tough task,” Louderback said. “It will be a great test for us.”

After this stretch of matches, the Irish will just about have seen it all this season. They have already played 11 matches against top-25 teams thus far, six of which came against top-seven opponents.

Louderback is thrilled with the idea of playing a tougher schedule than most and the postseason preparation that it offers his team.

“It is good for us to have tough matches late in the year,” he said. “It helps us get ready for the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.”

After this stretch of road matches, the Irish will return home for their regular-season finale against Texas A&M on April 11.