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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish look to get past semifinals

Matt Robison | Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Coming off a Big East title and 26-4 overall record last season, the Irish look to advance past the NCAA semifinals after falling in the same round the past two seasons.

Then-No. 6 Notre Dame’s last season ended with a 4-1 loss to then-No. 8 Stanford, after falling in 2009 to then-No. 9 California 4-2 in the same round.

Irish coach Jay Louderback said he expects Notre Dame to reach that high level of play once again.

“We are looking for our team to continue to be one of the top 10 teams in the country,” Louderback said.

Despite the loss of three key seniors, including Cosmina Ciobanu, Colleen Rielley and 2010 ITA All-American Kali Krisik, the Irish have a strong core of returning players as well as a number of newcomers that will look to contribute right away.

“Half our team will be freshmen so we will need them to get the experience of college tennis this fall,” Louderback said.

Because the outdoor season does not begin until spring, and the indoor regular season doesn’t begin until late winter, the Irish have scheduled plenty of indoor tournaments to prepare themselves for the grueling Big East and national schedule.

Notre Dame will use those tournaments to experiment with different doubles pairings.

“We will have to work out three new doubles teams with the loss of our seniors last year,” Louderback said.

The Irish will need to rearrange their doubles pairings in a way that creates solid team chemistry and creates the best opportunity to win. Gaining the best opportunity to win will also hinge on Notre Dame’s seniors filling leadership roles voided by Krisik, Rielley and Ciobanu.

“Our seniors and juniors will have to take a leadership role for us to improve upon last year’s results,” Louderback said.

The preseason rankings have not yet been released, but the Irish are expected to start the season high in the poll based off of last season’s final ranking of No. 6.