Irish prepare for road matchup at Arizona State
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, November 7, 2019
The Irish will wrap up their fall season at the Arizona State Invitational on Thursday. Notre Dame will look to test their skill against a field of worthy opposition, and they come into the season with high expectations. The Irish’s roster is loaded with very talented players, which could help them contend for an ACC title. Senior Zoe Spence and junior Cameron Corse place 44th and 116th respectively in the ITA rankings while the program is ranked 47th nationally.
Notre Dame’s strongest advantage seems to be in doubles where the pairing of Corse and Spence places 12th in the NCAA. Junior Ally Bojczuk is due for a breakout year as she looks to build off of an 18 win season, and sophomore Zoe Taylor should also improve after recording an impressive 15 victories in her rookie campaign. The Irish added the highly touted freshman Page Freeman to the roster, and, being a five-star recruit, she should be able to contribute to the winning effort in a major way.
Even with a solid roster, Notre Dame will have to battle in almost every matchup because the ACC is one of the most competitive conferences in tennis. North Carolina and Duke are ranked in the top five nationally while NC State, Florida State, Miami, Virginia and Wake Forest are all top 25 programs. The Tar Heels seem to be the overwhelming favorites to repeat their ACC conference title as they boast four of the top 15 players in the nation. Their roster is headlined by senior classmates, Makenna Jones and Alexa Graham who both have the potential to dominate this year. Jones has collected 86 singles victories over the course of her career while Graham has tallied a staggering 113, which makes the eighth winningest player in North Carolina’s history.
The ACC also contains some of the greatest talent in all of collegiate women’s tennis. Miami senior Estela Perez-Somarriba, Duke junior Kelly Chen and NC State senior Anna Rodgers are also considered to be some of the most exciting names in women’s tennis. The presence of Perez-Somarriba, the reigning national women’s singles champion and ACC player of the year, makes the Hurricanes a very tough matchup, and teams will have to rely on their depth to compete against them. Chen went undefeated in ACC play last year and will look to continue this streak in 2019. Under her leadership, the Blue Devils have a very real shot at an ACC title as well. Rodgers headlines a very well rounded Wolfpack squad and is coming off of an impressive 31 win season. NC State could be a dark horse candidate in the ACC as they have five nationally ranked players.
Fall invitationals give teams a chance to prepare for the more arduous spring season and grants them the opportunity to face off against competition from around the country. Notre Dame has already gotten a chance to compete against elite programs like Michigan State, Ole Miss, Wisconsin, Penn State and Kansas. They will look to face off against other high profile competition in Arizona, but the matchups have not yet been set at the time of this article.