ND Women’s Tennis
Irish ready for first big test against Wolverines
Benjamin Padanilam | Thursday, January 29, 2015
No. 19 Notre Dame will welcome No. 15 Michigan to Eck Tennis Pavilion this Sunday at 2 p.m. for an early-season top-20 showdown.
Following a doubleheader sweep against Western Michigan and Detroit Mercy on Jan. 17 in their season opener, the Irish (2-0) will host a Wolverine squad about to embark on its first road trip of 2015. Michigan (2-0) is coming off wins against Yale and Tulsa and will host Tennessee on Saturday before it travels to take on the Irish.
Irish coach Jay Louderback said he believes the team’s season opener served as an opportunity to gauge the team’s depth and view potential lineups, which will benefit his players going forward.
“One of the biggest things [from the doubleheader] was that we tried a couple of different lineups in doubles,” Louderback said. “One of our kids was out that will be back this week, but it helped us [to] get a chance to see what we wanted to do in doubles. That was a big factor. And we got to play some different ones in singles because we played two matches in the one day. It helped us get our depth [so we know] what we’re going to do if we get some injuries.”
Last weekend, the Irish had a bye weekend, something they are not used to this early in the season, Louderback said. With the extra time off, the team struggled in practice last week but has managed to rebound over the last few days, Louderback said.
The team is also adjusting to a new format in its matches, which the players were first exposed to in the season opener. Some of the changes include no warmups between opponents prior to a match, removing advantages so that any point scored after deuce wins that game and shortening doubles matches from eight games to six.
“Everything is really short, and it goes a little quicker than normal,” Louderback said. “It’s something that each match we play, we’re going to get used to it a little bit more.”
The matchup against a highly-ranked Michigan team provides Notre Dame with two significant opportunities, Louderback said. First and foremost, the coach said he wants his younger players to gain some much needed experience.
“We have two [girls] who will be playing in really their first big-time dual match, which is good,” Louderback said. “So it will be good to see how they react in a tight, tough match because Michigan is [No.] 15, so it should be a really good match for us.”
Louderback also said he hopes this matchup provides the top of the Irish lineup with a strong test.
“They’re very good at the top of their lineup,” Louderback said of the Wolverines. “Their top three players … are three of the top-five in our region. I think their strength is at the top of their lineup, so it will give us a feel for how good we think we can be at the top of our lineup.”
Notre Dame will square off against Michigan on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Eck Tennis Pavilion.