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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish host pair of dual meets

Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Irish will face off against some of the best young players in the country this weekend, as they take on Iowa and a freshmen-laden Duke squad in a pair of home matches.

The No. 3 Blue Devils (9-1, 0-0 ACC) may have three freshmen in their singles lineup, but their only loss this season came in the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor championships final in Charlottesville, Va., on Feb. 13, when they dropped a 4-0 decision to UCLA. Irish coach Jay Louderback said Duke would pose a great challenge to his squad.

“The biggest thing with [the Blue Devils] is their depth — they’re very good all the way through,” Louderback said. “They’ve got probably four or five players who could be playing [in the No. 1 position] at most schools, their depth’s so good.”

The Duke squad includes freshman Beatrice Capra, who moved to No. 2 in the new ITA women’s singles rankings released Tuesday. Capra has won seven of her 10 collegiate matches against ranked opponents as part of an overall singles record of 13-3. Capra and her doubles partner, freshman Ester Goldfeld, are the No. 16 doubles tandem in the nation.

The Blue Devils come into South Bend fresh off a 7-0 sweep of no. 42 VCU at home Sunday.

Although Iowa (4-2, 0-0 Big 10) is not ranked by the ITA and has just two upperclassmen on the roster, the Hawkeyes have held their own against several strong teams this season.

“Iowa is probably in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten; we really don’t know a lot about them,” Louderback said. “They went down and played Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and lost tight matches. Those teams are both ranked about No. 30 or No. 40 in the country right now.”

The Hawkeyes dominated their last match, toppling Northern Iowa by a score of 7-0.

The No. 17 Irish (8-3, 1-0 Big East) have won their last three matches, including wins over No. 65 Indiana (9-3, 0-0 Big Ten) and No. 16 Georgia Tech (5-5, 0-2 ACC) on Feb. 24 and 26, respectively. The impressive weekend showing moved Notre Dame up by six spots in the rankings, while Irish senior co-captains Shannon Mathews and Kristy Frilling are now ranked No. 2 in the ITA doubles rankings after winning both doubles matches in those Irish victories.

“We did a great job last weekend with Georgia Tech — we played very well against them,” Louderback said. “Last week was probably the best back-to-back matches where we really competed well, and that’s just something we’ve been working on and we want them to do that again this weekend.”

Louderback said Notre Dame can upset Duke if the team plays like it did against Indiana and Georgia Tech.

“I think they’re big matches, especially getting a shot at Duke, a team that’s No. 3 in the country. We have a chance to beat them if we play well,” Louderback said. “Our kids are looking forward to playing a team ranked that high this week.”

The Irish will take on the Hawkeyes at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion, and will return at the same time Saturday to challenge the Blue Devils.