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ND Women’s Tennis: Notre Dame ready to bounce back in N.C.

Matt Robison | Friday, February 4, 2011

The No. 4 Irish experienced something Sunday that they are not quite used to: a loss. This weekend, Notre Dame (2-1) looks to bounce back from a surprise defeat to No. 23 Arkansas as they face No. 6 North Carolina and Wake Forest in the Tar Heel State.

“North Carolina was a final four team last year and will be tough on the road,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “They are well-coached and always compete really well.”

The Demon Deacons, although not ranked as high as Notre Dame and the Tar Heels, will still pose a challenge to the visiting Irish.

“Wake Forest has a new coach with a few new players so we don’t know a whole lot about them,” Louderback said. “They are usually a tough team to play indoors at their place.”

More than anything, Louderback said, the loss to Arkansas Sunday was an awakening for a team that had not encountered any adversity in the early going, allowing them to see those areas that need improvement.

“I think we learned some things about our team and what we need to work on,” Louderback said. “We have some new doubles teams and some new singles players from a year ago so it was good to see how we played under pressure.”

The challenge of playing on the road this weekend is more tangible than most.

“This week [the challenge] is getting out of town because of the snow,” Louderback said.

On the other hand, playing on the road brings a unique element to the team dynamic.

“It is good for us to go on the road because we need to spend some time together and have to compete in front of our opponents’ crowds,” Louderback said.

North Carolina is 3-0 on the season with wins over Elon, DePaul and No. 15 Georgia. Wake Forest is 2-1 with wins over Winthrop and East Tennessee State and a loss to Virginia. Neither team has faced an opponent of Notre Dame’s caliber so this weekend’s matchups create interesting stories on both sides of the net.

The Irish square off with North Carolina at 12 p.m. Saturday in Chapel Hill and then take on Wake Forest at 11 a.m. Sunday in Winston-Salem.