ND Women’s Tennis
Irish swing for Orange Easter
Zach Klonsinski | Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Notre Dame travels to New York this weekend to play its final regular season game and finish off its first year in the ACC, visiting Syracuse on Saturday for a 1 p.m. contest.
The Irish (14-8, 7-6 ACC) are closing the season out on a hot streak, having won six matches in a row by a combined score of 41-1, including five straight in the ACC. Notre Dame has also won nine of its last 11 matches, with the only losses over that stretch coming at Virginia and North Carolina, both of which are ranked in the top eight. With such a streak coming just before the postseason begins, Irish coach Jay Louderback said he feels his team is playing well at the right time of year.
“Any time you’re winning it helps your confidence. I think our kids feel good,” Louderback said. “We’ve been down in a few matches and come back. We’ve done a great job, and that’s … something that’s good this time of year.”
While this is the final match of the regular season, Louderback felt he would have no troubles keeping the team focused on Syracuse (4-13, 4-8 ACC) instead of looking ahead to the post season.
“We know Syracuse at home is very good,” Louderback said. “They play indoors. They don’t even have outdoor courts, you have to play indoors. And their courts are really fast. They’ll be by far the fastest courts we play all year.”
While the Orange’s record may look a little down, the numbers support Louderback’s claim. The Orange is 3-2 at home, with wins over No. 48 Virginia Tech, No. 34 Boston College and No. 25 Florida State. While Syracuse failed to win a non-conference match, it was because it played very stiff competition, with a road trip to No. 71 Ohio State being the lowest-ranking non-conference team it played of their five non-conference opponents.
In comparison, the Irish played nine non-conference teams, four of whom were unranked, while the other five were ranked between No. 17 to No. 43. Notre Dame went 7-2 in those nine matches.
The speed of Syracuse’s courts has presented an issue for opponents for many years, which was why Louderback had the team working on returning serves from much closer than usual as they prepared during practice.
“They hit hard, they hit big serves,” Louderback said. “They come in to the net and balls get on you fast. They are a whole different team at home.”
The Irish will look to finish off the regular season strong, and clinch a winning record in their inaugural ACC season, when they travel to face the Orange on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Drumlins Tennis Center in Syracuse, N.Y.