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ND Women’s Tennis

Irish host Marquette, NC State over weekend

| Friday, March 27, 2015

No. 36 Notre Dame will return home this weekend for a pair of matches, welcoming ACC foe North Carolina State on Friday followed by a matchup with Marquette on Sunday.

The Irish (10-6, 5-3 ACC) are coming off two close road matches this past weekend, as they fought their way to a narrow 4-3 victory over Florida State last Friday in Tallahassee, Florida, before falling to Georgia Tech in Atlanta by 4-3.

Against both opponents, the outcome was decided in the final singles match. Against the Seminoles (10-6, 3-4 ACC), the Irish trailed 3-1 before winning the last three singles matches to secure the victory. Then, just two days later against the Yellow Jackets (6-6, 3-3 ACC), four of the six singles matches took all three sets to reach a conclusion. Irish head coach Jay Louderback said he believes close, competitive weekends such as this past one will prepare the team for the bigger matches down the road.

“It’s going to really help us later on,” Louderback said. “It’s hard losing one as tight as we did, but both teams are very good. As we get into the ACC tournament and then — even more than that — the NCAA tournament, playing these type of matches helps. We’ve had 11 matches that were either 4-3 or 5-2 this year, which is a lot, and we’ve won seven of them. It’s going to help us later as we get further into the season and the postseason.”

Louderback said he expects his team is in for another close match Friday when it welcomes the Wolfpack (9-8, 0-6 ACC) to Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Wolfpack are coming off losses to Miami and Florida State this past weekend that kept them winless in conference play. However, Louderback said it will be a hard-fought match due to the fact that conference play has had one tight match after the other for the Irish all year.

“If you look at their scores, [NC State has] had tight matches with everyone,” Louderback said. “They just lost a tight 5-2 match at Florida State two days after we played them. We haven’t had an easy ACC match [either]. It’s going to be another good ACC match for us, and they’re needing a win and want a win in the ACC right now so they’ll be tough.”

Notre Dame will play their second match of the weekend Sunday when they host the Golden Eagles (9-7, 0-1 Big East). Although no longer a member of the Big East, Notre Dame has continued to play Marquette due to the natural rivalry that exists between the teams, Louderback said.

“We’ve played Marquette every year for a long time,” Louderback said. “Now that we’re not in the Big East, they’re just sort of a natural close rival for us, so we’ve continued to play them. We haven’t lost to them for a long time, but we’ve had close matches. And they always compete well.”

In addition to the rivalry, the benefit of the match for the Irish is the timing of it, as Louderback said it provides the team with a strong but relaxing non-conference tilt.

“I think it will actually be good for us to play a non-conference match because, even though it will be a good match, it’s not quite the same pressure as when your playing ACC matches,” Louderback said.

The Irish will take to the courts Friday at 3 p.m. when they take on NC State at Eck Tennis Pavilion, followed by the matchup with Marquette on Sunday at noon.

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About Benjamin Padanilam

Ben is a senior and The Observer’s former Editor-in-Chief, now serving as its interim Sports Editor. He is in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and also pursuing minors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Business Economics. He hails from Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed the few highs and many lows of being a Cleveland sports fan.

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