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Women’s Tennis: Irish face ranked foes in Tennessee

Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Irish face a stiff test this weekend as they travel to Tennessee to take on two top-20 teams.

No. 21 Notre Dame (4-1, 1-0 Big East) will play No. 19 Tennessee (2-2) in Knoxville, Tenn. on Friday before heading to Nashville for a 12 p.m. match-up with No. 17 Vanderbilt (6-2) on Sunday.

“We’re playing two top-20 teams on the road, so it’s going to be a big weekend for us,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “They’re both ranked ahead of us, so it’s a crucial weekend for us after losing to Yale last weekend.”

Louderback said neither team has any obvious weaknesses to take advantage of.

“They’re both well-coached; they’re very good,” Louderback said. “Their singles are good, their doubles are good, they really don’t have any holes in their line-up, so they’re going to be tough matches for us.”

The Volunteers qualified for the ITA National Indoor championship last weekend by knocking out UC Davis (1-3) and No. 22 Tulsa (3-1) at home. This is the third consecutive season Tennessee has qualified for the tournament.

The Volunteers clinched their ticket to the ITA National Indoors with a point from freshman Sarah Toti, who was named the SEC Freshman of the Week on Wednesday. Toti is 8-5 in singles and 15-3 in doubles play on the season. She and her doubles partner, sophomore Brynn Boren, are ranked No. 18 in the country and have won their last seven matches. Irish seniors Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews lost to Toti and Boren at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships last October.

The Irish lost to No. 35 Yale (1-1) before winning their consolation match against No. 40 Maryland (1-2) in an ITA qualifying tournament last weekend. Mathews shined in the matches, winning both of her singles matches and splitting her doubles matches against the Bulldogs and the Terrapins. She played in the No. 1 position for the first time this season in her singles match against No. 26 Cristina Stancu, a Maryland sophomore, winning 6-2, 6-4. Mathews’s hard work did not go unnoticed, as she was named the Big East Women’s Tennis Player of the Week this week.

The Irish begin play against Tennessee at 4 p.m. Friday and go on to play against Vanderbilt at 12 p.m. Sunday.