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ND Women’s Tennis: Finals ultimate goal for ND

Katherine Hei | Friday, January 21, 2011

Last season was a familiar story for the Irish — a high ranking, a successful regular season and an exit in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament. This year, Notre Dame is hoping to make it all the way.

“I think there’s a good chance of us being in the Final Four again, and once you get to that point you always have a chance of winning,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “When you’re in the Final Four, everyone’s good.”

The team has quite a few returning starters, but also lost some major players with the departure last year’s senior class. Thankfully, the team has a handful of freshmen prepared to fill the void.

“It’ll be important for the freshmen to step up,” junior Kristy Frilling said. “Every match is important, and we have a tough schedule and we travel a lot, so we have to make sure we’re all really ready to compete.”

Part of the No. 1 doubles team in the NCAA two years running, Frilling is returning with her third doubles partner in three years — fellow junior Shannon Mathews.

“It’s definitely been a challenge because a new partner means a whole new game style,” Frilling said, “So far it’s worked out pretty well, and I think me and Shannon will really work well together.”

Mathews was a part of the team’s No. 2 doubles team last year, and Louderback has high hopes for her success with Frilling as a partner.

Even with the number of returning players, Louderback knows that he will have to amend his coaching style slightly this season in order to break in the new players.

“This year is going to be a little different because when we have two freshmen into the lineup, we’ll have to adjust more when we find out how those freshmen do in duel matches,” Louderback said.

In addition to the team’s success, Frilling has her own personal goals.

“I want to stay at the top of the rankings in both singles and doubles,” Frilling said. “For my singles. I want go out and win all of my matches and qualify for the individual NCAAs and the doubles tournament.”

Frilling is hoping that success this season will help her in her quest to eventually gain professional status.

“I’m going to try to play some tournaments this summer to try to establish a professional ranking, and after I graduate I’m gong to try to go on tour for a while and see how that goes,” Frilling said.

For now, Frilling is just focusing on leading her team to an NCAA tournament title.

“Every season is new no matter what, so you can’t go in thinking that rankings matter,” Frilling said. “You still have to perform the best you can because the results will speak for themselves.”

 The Irish hit the courts on Saturday at Illinois at 1 p.m.