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ND Women’s Tennis

Inexperienced team shows potential in Louderback’s final year

| Friday, May 18, 2018

Notre Dame finished its 2017-18 campaign with an 11-15 overall record and a 2-12 record in ACC play. This season saw the rise of three freshmen with much potential and marked the end of Jay Louderback’s 29-year run as the Notre Dame head coach, as he announced his retirement a week after the ACC championships.

The Irish were a young team this year with three scholarship players coming in as freshmen: Ally Bojczuk, Cameron Corse and Caroline Dunleavy. Louderback said the freshman all had strong performances this season.

“I thought [the freshmen] did a great job,” he said. “All three [players] had really good [fall seasons] but once the spring started and we played our first two, three away matches, I feel like [the freshmen] got the feel of college tennis and dual matches.”

Louderback also, acknowledged the scholarship freshmen for their specific achievements during the year. He noted Dunleavy’s improvement, Corse’s outstanding doubles play, and Bojczuk’s team-best singles record.

“I feel like [the freshmen] made a lot of progress, all three of them. Caroline Dunleavy struggled a little, lost a lot of close matches towards the end of the year. She ended up losing a close one against Miami … and then she won easily against Wake in the last match of the year. I felt like at the end of the year, when she played a little more relaxed, she finished strong,” Louderback said. “The other two [freshmen] both had really good years, Cameron Corse especially, in doubles. [Corse] ended up playing [at the] one doubles before she was injured and had a win over two top-20 teams in doubles, which was really good. The other freshman, Ally Bojczuk, had our best singles records in dual matches.”

Sophomore Zoe Spence and junior Rachel Chong also stepped up for the Irish this season. Stepping into larger roles, the duo handled the transition well, Louderback said. 

“[Spence and Chong] played a huge part this year,” he said. “[Spence], at the end of the year was playing very well, she played mainly at three [singles] all year. She had played four and five [singles] as a freshman so, that was a big jump for her but, she handled it really well with some big wins in the ACC. Her doubles made a big jump from a year ago, she ended up playing No. 1 doubles and was able to compete at the number one doubles.

“[Chong] played six [singles] as a sophomore and she was in and out of our doubles lineup but, this year she stepped in and played three doubles with different partners and played four and five [singles] most of the year. [Chong] won a lot of matches and competed well.”

Louderback has coached his last season in college sports and is retiring for good after 29 years at Notre Dame and 39 years coaching college tennis. Louderback noted the decision was not an easy one.

“I’ve been here for 29 years and it just felt like it’s time I needed to spend a little more time with my wife and family. It’s been an unbelievable experience being here, it’s just a great school and a really outstanding place to work,” Louderback said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else for 29 years. [Making this decision was] hard; it’s hard when you’ve done it that long.

“I was [coaching for] 10 years in two other schools, so I’ve been coaching in college for 39 years. Giving it up wasn’t an easy decision. Even then, I’ve always enjoyed competing and coaching — it’s the next best thing to playing — you’re still able to compete and helping [players] compete. But I think [what I’ll miss] the most is just the interaction with the people I work with and our student-athletes. It’s going to be 3 o’clock next fall and I’ll have no practice to go to. That’ll definitely be different but, it’s something my wife and I have talked about a lot and this is a good time for me to stop.”

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