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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish split squad to start fall play

By Vicky Jacobsen | Friday, September 20, 2013

The Irish end their long summer layoff today at the Wolverine Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Ball State Fall Invitational in Muncie, Ind.

The relatively large 12-athlete team will be split between the two tournaments, both of which will conclude Sunday. Juniors Molly O’Koniewski and Katherine White and sophomores Darby Mountford and Alaina Roberts will be playing at Ball State, while the rest of the team will compete in Michigan. Irish coach Jay Louderback, however, said there was no particular differentiation between the team members sent to the different tournaments.

“Our big thing is trying to get everyone as many matches as we can this fall,” Louderback said. “A lot of our kids didn’t play tournaments this summer, so they need to play. They haven’t played since the NCAA [tournament in] May. So it’s just where we feel like we can get them the most matches.”

The Ball State Fall Invitational is a “flighted” tournament, meaning there will be several brackets of players who compete with each other over the course of the weekend.

“We’ll probably have one or two [players] in each draw, and they just play it out,” Louderback said. “It will probably be 16 in a draw, so they’ll play four singles and four doubles over the weekend.”

Assistant coach Catrina Thompson will be at the helm in Muncie, where the Irish will be joined by a field that includes Arkansas State, Butler, Eastern Kentucky, Illinois State, Miami University and Valparaiso.

At the same time, Louderback will be busy watching the rest of the team in Ann Arbor, where the tournament will be in mock-dual format, meaning the entire squad will line up against another school, much like during the regular season. Louderback said he is excited to see how his team matches up to the hosting Michigan team and a Purdue squad that beat the Irish in a 4-3 squeaker last season, as well as other sides they might see later this year.

“Arizona State will be there, and we play them in the Kickoff Classic in January. That’s our second dual match of the year, so we’ll get a shot at seeing them and playing against them,” Louderback said. “DePaul, who’s very good, and then Tulane, who we’ve really never played or seen, [will be there], so it’ll be good. 

“They’re all good teams and our kids should be pushed every match they play, so it should be good.”

But Louderback stressed that the most important part of the weekend is getting back into playing shape and adjusting to a new season.

“We’re going to have a lot of new doubles teams this year, so we get a chance to see our kids play doubles against some other teams, with new partners,” Louderback said. “We’ve been practicing a lot, having good practices and then playing each other some, but our kids’ biggest thing is getting back in there.”

The Irish get back at it today, beginning at 9 a.m., at the Ball State Cardinal Creek Tennis Center and continuing at 9:30 a.m., at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor. Both tournaments are set to conclude on Sunday.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]