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ND Women’s Tennis

Notre Dame hosts ACC competition this weekend

| Friday, February 27, 2015

Eck Pavilion prepares for yet another busy weekend of ACC action, as No. 26 Notre Dame welcomes both No. 34 Syracuse and No. 5 Virginia to campus.

Friday afternoon, the Orange (5-3, 0-2) will come to Notre Dame (6-3, 2-0 ACC) for a top-35 matchup. Though Syracuse has started slowly in the conference, Notre Dame will not be taking them lightly, Irish coach Jay Louderback said.

“They’ve had a good spring already,” Louderback said. “The matches they’ve lost have been close matches. They’ve had a really tough schedule early with many of them on the road.”

Last season, the Irish and the Orange battled to the end in a close matchup that could have gone either way, Louderback said.

“We had a tight match with them last year, beating them 4-3. It was very close,” Louderback said.

In its last match of the regular season, Notre Dame needed the doubles point to get the victory, and it can expect another close matchup this weekend against a solid Syracuse squad, Louderback said.

Even if Notre Dame gets past the Orange on Friday, the weekend will not get any easier as Virginia (7-2, 1-0) comes to town Sunday.

The Cavaliers have endured a fiercely competitive schedule so far this season, with victories over No. 2 Georgia, No. 4 USC and No. 17 TCU. Their only two losses at this point have come at the hands of No. 3 Florida and No. 6 Baylor.

Notre Dame has a positive mindset going into a matchup with such stiff competition, Louderback said.

“We think it’ll be a good match for us to play,” he said. “We’ve played quite a few in a row where we’ve been favored, and we’re not in this one. It’s good for us to play against such tough opponents. We had a tight match with highly ranked Stanford earlier in the season, and it was great for us to see how we stack up with such tough competition.”

Virginia currently has four players ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) singles poll, including the No. 1 overall singles player in the nation, junior Julia Elbaba.

“Elbaba is really good, being the top-ranked individual player in the country right now, and their No. 2 player [junior Danielle Collins] won the NCAA individual championship last year, so it’ll be fun to see how we stack up,” Louderback said.

In addition to a stacked singles lineup, the Cavaliers have two doubles pairs ranked in the ITA top 50, including the No. 23 duo of junior Skylar Morton and freshman Cassie Mercer, who will provide Notre Dame’s No. 21 pairing of junior Quinn Gleason and sophomore Monica Robinson a good benchmark of their season progress Sunday morning, Louderback said.

“Last year we had a chance against [Virginia] even though it was 6-1,” Louderback said. “You know, the ACC is very tough on the road. They’re gonna have to play on Friday on the road [at Pittsburgh] and then come up here to play us as well on Sunday, so we feel like we have a good chance against a very good team this weekend playing at home.”

Coming off two victories in the ACC last weekend against Pittsburgh and Louisville, Notre Dame will look to build on its conference winning streak this weekend at Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish will meet Syracuse on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Virginia on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

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