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ND Women’s Tennis

Irish take on Panthers in second match of spring season

| Friday, January 26, 2018

After sweeping Western Michigan 7-0 on Tuesday, Notre Dame is set to host Eastern Illinois on Saturday in their second match of 2018. The Irish (1-0) enter Saturday’s meeting against the Panthers with some momentum after cruising to a win over the Broncos. The Panthers meanwhile, are on the other side of the fence with a 0-2 record to open the season.

But regardless of how EIU has fared so far, for head coach Jay Louderback, the Irish are focused more on cultivating their own style of play and getting better at it. Opponent-specific preparations will come in the latter part of the season.

Observer File Photo

Irish junior Rachel Chong returns a forehand during Notre Dame’s 5-2 win over Purdue on Feb, 22, 2017 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“For tennis, we play against other players and all of our opponents are completely different. You never know who you’re getting. As the season goes along and we know teams what positions people play we are able to prepare more for a certain kind of player,” Louderback said. “So right now, we’re just worried more about until it gets later in the year how we play, and whoever we play with, that’s fine. We just want to be ready to play a lot of different styles of tennis.”

For Louderback, the most important part that the Irish will have to watch for are the top-three players in the Panthers’ lineup. Luckily, Notre Dame has already faced a similar test.

“[Eastern Illinois] is going to be a lot like Western Michigan was. Eastern Illinois, their top of their lineup—their top three players—is probably their strength. Their top-three players have all done well. I felt like [Western Michigan] were the same—their [top-two] players were very good, we had two tight matches [against them],” he said. “Really, we look for a lot of the same. We’re focused right now on our doubles in playing really aggressive and trying to control matches and trying to control points.”

With an Irish team consisting of plenty of freshmen, Louderback praised his upperclassmen for their handling of the younger athletes. The mix of young and veteran talent has been of help to the team.

“It’s been really good, our older ones — our juniors, seniors — have done a great job of helping the freshmen blend in with the team and how we do things at practice and everything. It’s been a great combination of older, experienced players and then a lot of freshmen. The freshmen are all very good players and just really enjoy playing tennis. I really credit our juniors and seniors with the way they’ve handled everything.”

This season could very well be better than the last, as Louderback argues that the depth in the lineup and the team is superb, with plenty of potential.

“We had a good year last year; we lost in the second round of the NCAA’s — I felt like that was a good year. This year, a big part of it is our depth; I feel like we have really good depth,” he said. “You go through the year and you have injuries, you have players sick and miss matches, and that can make a big difference with your depth. I feel like with our depth — we have a lot of good players. I feel like that’s why this year could be better than last year.”

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