ND Women’s Tennis
Irish to face three opponents in Athens
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, January 23, 2020
After beginning the season with two straight victories over Bowling Green, the Notre Dame women’s tennis team will head to Athens, Georgia for three matches this weekend.
Notre Dame (2-0) is scheduled to face Furman on Jan. 25 before challenging No. 2 Georgia and Michigan State the next day. The Irish have a very experienced team with five out of their nine players juniors or seniors. However, their younger players stand out, as well, as freshman Page Freeman was a five-star recruit and secured her first-ever spring season victory last Sunday. The upcoming matches allow Notre Dame to gain some valuable experience against some of the top programs in the country.
Furman (2-2) enters the matchup on a two-game winning streak after shutting out both of their most recent opponents. The Paladins will look to build off a successful 2018-2019 season, wherein they went 26-2 overall and 7-0 in the Southern Conference before falling to Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Championships. Furman is led by senior Katarina Kozarov, a bona-fide star in collegiate tennis who has earned back-to-back Southern Conference player of the year honors.
The Bulldogs will be playing their first matches of the season this weekend and should be one of the toughest opponents on the Irish’s whole schedule. Georgia may be the most complete team in the NCAA, with multiple players ranked in the top 100, and they are coming off a historic 2018-2019 season that ended in a loss to Stanford in the NCAA championship match. Georgia set the university’s single-season win record with 28 in total, and they will be highly motivated to make another long postseason run this year. However, the Irish are familiar with playing against elite programs as they competed with Duke and Virginia in 2019.
Michigan State looks to improve after finishing last season with a record of 15-11. The Spartans will also be eager for the opportunity of revenge against Notre Dame, who defeated them 4-0 in 2019. Junior Mary Lewis headlines a solid Michigan State lineup. This contest presents an opportunity for the Irish to extend their dominance against the Spartans, a regional rival.
The match against Furman will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday while both the Georgia and Michigan State games are expected to begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday. When the Irish return to South Bend from Athens, they will begin a four-game homestand at the Eck Tennis Pavilion, facing Akron, Kentucky, Butler and Northwestern. Notre Dame does start the season with a very high strength of schedule, but if the team can establish a rhythm at home, they should be able to gain momentum heading into important ACC matches.