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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish aim for momentum change in Bloomington

By Vicky Jacobsen | Friday, February 22, 2013

The Irish will try to bounce back from a two-loss weekend with tilts against Baylor on Saturday and Indiana on Sunday.

Although the No. 22 Irish (5-3) usually have more experience indoors than visiting teams from southern climates, they might not possess the same home court advantage when they host the No. 19 Bears on Friday afternoon.

“We’d probably rather play them outdoors, but since we’re playing them here in February it’s inside,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “They’ve always been a team that hits the ball very big. They play an aggressive game and they just played the National Indoor, so they’ve been indoors a lot.”

Notre Dame and Baylor have played every year since 2007 (the Bears lead the all-time series 5-4), but familiarity won’t help the Irish as Baylor graduated four seniors in 2012.

Although Baylor is ranked in the top 20, the Bears have lost five of their last six matches, including all three at the National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 8-10.

After their Friday evening match, the Irish will travel to Bloomington, Ind., to take on Indiana (8-2) on Sunday morning. The Hoosiers have lost their last two matches by a score of 4-3 to Tennessee on Feb. 15 and Kentucky on Sunday. Despite Indiana’s recent slide, Louderback said the Hoosiers still belong in the same company as the Irish.

“They’re a little like we are,” he said. “They’re one in the group that is anywhere from about 10 to 40; it seems like there are lots of schools in there that are just all so close, and Indiana is right in there.”

Louderback said Notre Dame will arrive in Bloomington on Saturday, which will give the Irish a chance to get used to Indiana’s courts before Sunday’s match.

“They’re always a tough team at home, [because] their courts are pretty fast,” Louderback said. “You have to adjust to them some.”

The Irish dropped three spots in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings after losing 4-3 to Purdue at home Feb. 15 and falling 5-2 at Northwestern. Louderback said he wasn’t too concerned about the losses, as Notre Dame has been competitive in all of their matches.

“Every match since [Bowling Green] we haven’t had one match that either team couldn’t have won,” Louderback said. “I think that’s better than just going out and winning a lot of easy matches.”

Notre Dame has only won the doubles point in two of its eight matches so far this spring, a troubling development for a team that puts a strong emphasis on winning the first point of the match.

Although the Irish could not pull out the doubles point against Northwestern on Sunday, Louderback said the new doubles team competing against the Wildcates pleased him

“We had [junior Jennifer] Kellner and [senior Chrissie] McGaffigan still play together, but the other two teams we switched the partners around and we thought they both played really wel.,” he said. “Even though we’ve played a few matches, we’re still in the process of looking at some different combinations. Our big goal this year is to be ready by Big East time and be playing really well.”

The Irish will begin this weekend’s competition against Baylor on 5aturday morning at 10pa.m.ait the Eck Tennis Center.hNotre Dame then heads south to Bloomington, Ind., to take on the Hoosiers on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. at the Indiana University Tennis Center.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]