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ND Women’s Tennis: Louderback heads to alma mater looking for momentum

Chris Allen | Friday, March 26, 2010

The No. 3 Irish (13-2) will look to continue their winning ways as they travel to Wichita State this weekend to take on TCU (1-11) and the Wichita State (6-8).

The trip carries special significance for Irish head coach Jay Louderback, fresh off his 400th win as a coach. Wichita State is Louderback’s alma mater, where he won a Missouri Valley Conference title in 1976 at No. 3 singles as a player and guided the team to a 122-94 record in seven seasons as a coach. Louderback said he is excited to return to familiar territory, though this time as an opponent.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Louderback said. “I’ve been gone for 24 years now, but I know a lot of people there. They’ve got a new facility there and it’s a real nice facility. A couple of my teammates from back then are coaching at racquet clubs in the area. It’s going to be a nice trip for me.”

Nostalgia aside, the trip will be tough for the Irish despite the subpar records of the opponents. The Horned Frogs’ lone win this season came over the Texas Longhorns, but Louderback knows they are better than their record.

“They’re 1-11, yes, but they lost eight matches 4-3,” Louderback said. “Everyone they’ve played is ranked and they’ve lost to top-15 teams by close margins. They’re probably one of the top-30 teams in the country so it’ll be easy not to underestimate them. They’re a real good team.”

TCU has its top three singles players ranked in the top 100 in the country, which will be a challenge for sophomores Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews and freshman Chrissie McGaffigan, Notre Dame’s top three players in singles. Louderback said the top singles players are used to stiff competition.

“The kids at the top of the lineup know every match will be a tough one,” Louderback said. “They know they will be facing a good player. Our kids know that.”

The challenge at the top of the lineup will continue for Frilling against the Shockers as she will face off against sophomore Luftiana Budiharto, ranked No. 34 in the country. Wichita State also lines up the No. 22 doubles team in their top doubles slot. Louderback stressed the need for his doubles teams to adjust to senior Kali Krisik’s uncertainty with a recent injury.

“She’s been in and out,” Louderback said. “We haven’t had a chance to have everyone play together. In practice we’ve had different combinations practicing for a while. That should help us at tournament time.”

The Irish will look to keep up the intensity against TCU at 10 a.m. Saturday and Wichita State at noon Sunday.