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ND Women’s Tennis: Bulldogs to challenge Irish

Megan Finneran | Friday, January 28, 2011

No. 4 Notre Dame returned from a training-filled winter break with a 5-2 victory over Illinois last weekend. Now, the Irish are ready for another challenge, as Arkansas, Utah and Yale come to campus for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship qualifier.

“Everyone played well [against Illinois], and I think it’s important for everyone to keep up that competitive energy this weekend,” junior Kristy Frilling said.

After a strong performance in all facets of their game last weekend, the Irish will focus on detail for their upcoming event.

“After our first week, our coaches have some good insight into doubles improvements and singles adjustments that each of us can incorporate into the matches this weekend,” junior Shannon Mathews said. “In doubles, improved communication is always critical, and in singles, increased focus on important points can make a big difference in a match.”

The Irish as a team have not faced Yale in a dual match in recent years, but Frilling and Mathews played against a Bulldogs doubles team in the fall at an All-American qualifying event. Additionally, the competition includes an interesting back story, as Yale’s assistant and volunteer coaches, Christian and Catrina Thompson, are not only 2007 Notre Dame graduates but also former All-Americans for the Irish.

“It will be great to see them, and I’m sure Yale will be a fun team to compete against with them as their coaches,” Frilling said.

Practice this week has consisted largely of doubles practices to allow each pair to learn how to play together and grow comfortable as partners.

“I think the main focus for this week is to take what we learned from last week’s matches and incorporate that into this week’s matches,” Frilling said.

For a team that has consistently shown its ability to compete at the national level, this weekend brings an opportunity for the Irish to further showcase their talents against new competition.

“We have focused on fine-tuning our games and remaining relaxed and confident,” Mathews said. “We have all worked very hard to get to this point — now it is all about concentration and execution.”

The Irish host Yale Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Pavilion, while Arkansas takes on Utah at 9 a.m. On Sunday, the consolation match will take place at 9 a.m., with the championship taking place at 1 p.m.