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ND Women’s Tennis

Tough field looms as squad enters ACC tourney

| Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Notre Dame is set to play in the ACC women’s tennis tournament this week, beginning play Wednesday against Pittsburgh in Rome, Georgia.

The Irish (16-8, 7-7 ACC), seeded 10th, enter the conference tournament on a five-match losing streak after losses to tough conference opponents No. 12 Duke, No. 5 North Carolina, Florida State, No. 8 Georgia Tech and Clemson.

Notre Dame’s most recent match was a 6-1 loss to Clemson on Sunday at Hoke Sloan Tennis Center. Sophomore Rachel Chong recorded the only Irish win of the match by winning 6-3, 7-6(2) on court No. 6. On court No. 2, junior Brooke Broda lost the first set of her match 6-2 before rebounding to win the second set 6-4. Broda dropped the third and decisive set 6-4. On court No. 1, senior Monica Robinson lost her first set 6-3 but grabbed a 6-4 win in the second set. Robinson lost the third set 6-2. Senior Mary Closs, junior Allison Miller and freshman Zoe Spence all lost in straight sets.

Notre Dame sophomore Rachel Chong follows through on a hit during a 5-2 Irish victory over Purdue at Eck Tennis Center.Michael Yu | The Observer
Notre Dame sophomore Rachel Chong follows through on a hit during a 5-2 Irish victory over Purdue at Eck Tennis Center.

In the doubles competition, the No. 1 pair of Closs and Robinson dropped a 6-3 decision, while the No. 3 pair of senior Jane Fennelly and Spence fell 6-2. The match featuring the No. 2 pair of Broda and Miller was discontinued.

Irish head coach Jay Louderback noted that his team will have a short week to prepare for the beginning of the tournament on Wednesday.

“We’re going to start practicing on Tuesday,” Louderback said. “We played Clemson on Sunday, we were off on Monday, we’re going to practice Tuesday and then we play Pittsburgh on Wednesday. We’re going to get a chance to be outdoors on Tuesday, and I think that’s a big thing for us. We practiced indoors on Saturday and played Clemson indoors on Sunday, so our big thing is just to be able to practice outdoors and get outdoors.”

Louderback said his team isn’t worried about its current losing streak as it heads into postseason play.

“During our last five matches, three of our opponents were the top-three seeds in the conference tournament, so those were very tough matches,” Louderback said. “We just lost a couple of close matches to Florida State and Clemson, so the toughest part of our schedule was probably those matches at the end of the year. We’re not even worried about how many matches we’ve lost, we’re just looking ahead. We have Pittsburgh on Wednesday and we beat them earlier in the year, so we’re looking forward to getting a chance to play them.”

Louderback said he will keep a close eye on North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Duke, the conference’s highest-seeded teams.

“North Carolina and Georgia Tech have both been in the top five here recently, and they’re the No. 1 and 2 seeds, so both of those teams are very tough,” Louderback said. “Then the No. 3 seed is Duke who is in the top 15, so those were the three teams who were definitely ahead of everyone else by the end of the year. For us, we lost a tight 4-3 match to Duke and lost a couple of three-set matches, so we’re right in there with them, but those are the three teams that stand apart from everyone else.”

Before running into any of those squads, though, the Irish will take on No. 15-seed Pittsburgh in the first round at 1 p.m. Wednesday with the winner advancing to face No. 7-seed Clemson on Thursday.

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