April 21, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The fifth-ranked Irish women’s tennis team will try for their third straight and 10th overall conference title this weekend as they host the BIG EAST Championships at Courtney Tennis Center and Leeper Park Tennis Center.
Tournament action gets underway Thursday at 9:00 a.m. with eighth-seeded West Virginia taking on ninth-seeded Cincinnati and seventh-seeded Rutgers facing 10th-seeded Pittsburgh.
Notre Dame enters the 12-team tournament as the top seed for the 14th time in the past 15 seasons. The Irish will take on the winner of the West Virginia-Cincinnati match at 9:00 a.m. (ET) Friday at the Courtney Tennis Center in quarterfinal action. The semifinals begin Friday at 9:00 a.m., while the championship match gets underway Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Both semifinal matches, as well as the championship match will be played at Courtney Tennis Center.
2010 BIG EAST Women’s Tennis ChampionshipCourtney Tennis Center – Leeper Park Tennis CenterSouth Bend, Ind.Second Round – Friday, April 23#1 Notre Dame (19-3) vs. #8 West Virginia/#9 Cincinnati 9:00 a.m. (ET)Semifinals – Saturday, April 24, 9:00 a.m. (ET)Finals – Sunday, April 25, 9:00 a.m. (ET)
The BIG EAST Championship: All 16 members of the BIG EAST Conference field teams in women’s tennis but the league does not require round-robin competition during the season. The top 12 teams, as selected by the conference based on national rankings and head-to-head results, earn invitations to the league championship, a single-elimination team tournament with the winner gaining the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Championship. Play begins Thursday at 9:00 a.m. with eighth-seeded West Virginia taking on ninth-seeded Cincinnati and seventh-seeded Rutgers facing 10th-seeded Pittsburgh.
The Irish in the BIG EAST Championships: Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, Notre Dame has advanced to the championship match of the league tournament every season and earned nine conference titles. The Irish won titles in their first two BIG EAST Championships, before falling to Miami as a runner-up in 1998. Notre Dame won three titles from 1999-2003, then returned as back-to-back champs in 2005 and 2006. After a runner-up finish to South Florida in 2007, Notre Dame won two consecutive championships in 2008 and 2009.
The Irish have been the top seed heading into the tournament in 14 of their 15 seasons as members of the BIG EAST. In 2003, Notre Dame was the No. 2 seed. Irish head coach Jay Louderback has been named the conference Coach of the Year on seven occasions, while Notre Dame student-athletes have been tabbed the league championship’s Most Outstanding Player six times. Notre Dame had 13 different players earn a place on the BIG EAST All-Tournament team when the conference announced the honor from 2003-2008.
In 23 early-round matches (first round through semifinals), Notre Dame is undefeated, having registered 22 shutouts. Overall, the Irish are 32-5 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship.
The 2009 BIG EAST Championship: The Irish won their second straight and ninth overall conference title last season. As the tournament’s top-seeded team, the Irish earned a bye in the first round, before dispatching Pittsburgh, 4-0, in the quarterfinals. Notre Dame earned its 14th-straight trip to the tournament title match with a 4-0 victory over Rutgers in the semifinals.
Notre Dame met regional-rival DePaul in the tournament’s final match for the first time since joining the conference. The Irish were able to clinch the doubles point, but the Blue Demons took a 2-1 lead after wins at second and sixth singles. Notre Dame battled back for a 3-2 advantage with wins at Nos. 5 and 1, before freshman Shannon Mathews clinched the championship for Notre Dame with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 victory over Sandra Zmak at No. 4 singles.
The Irish won two major conference awards and had five student-athletes named to the first-ever all-BIG EAST team, announced during the league banquet held just before the tournament began. Senior Kelcy Tefft was named the BIG EAST Player of the Year, while Kristy Frilling earned freshman of the year honors. Joining Tefft and Frilling on the all-conference team were juniors Cosmina Ciobanu and Kali Krisik and Mathews.
Notre Dame vs. the Field: Notre Dame is 53-2 all-time against teams in the 2010 BIG EAST Championship with the only losses coming at the hands of South Florida in the 2007 conference tournament final and Marquette in 1989. The Irish have played every team in this year’s tournament at least once before. Overall, Notre Dame is 56-2 against current members of the BIG EAST Conference.
Notre Dame is 4-0 against BIG EAST foes this season. The Irish defeated DePaul, 6-1, on Jan. 30 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion, before topping the Blue Demons, 6-1, on April 16 at the Courtney Tennis Center. Notre Dame toppled South Florida, 7-0, at home on April 9, and downed Marquette, 6-1, in its final regular-season match on April 18.
Beating No. 1: On Feb. 21, the Irish made history as they defeated No. 1 Northwestern, 5-2, at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. It was the first time in school history that Notre Dame had beaten the country’s top-ranked team, and the first time since 2007 that the Irish had topped the Wildcats.
Notre Dame swept the doubles point, then went up 2-0 as sophomore Kristy Frilling knocked off the 12th-ranked Maria Mosolova, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 1 singles. With a Shannon Mathews victory at No. 2 singles in the books, freshman Chrissie McGaffigan clinched the win for the Irish with a 6-3, 6-2 upset of Kate Turvy at third singles.
Irish Head Coach: Jay Louderback is in his 21st season at Notre Dame with a 404-168 (.706) record and in his 31st year as a collegiate coach with a 608-346 (.637) mark. He ranks third, behind only Indiana’s Lin Loring and Pepperdine’s Gualberto Escudero, among active NCAA Division I women’s coaches in career victories and became just the 10th collegiate women’s coach ever to register 500 wins (4-3 win at Texas A&M on March 18, 2006). Louderback’s Irish have finished in the national top 30 in each of the last 17 seasons and have won nine BIG EAST titles since joining the conference in 1995-96. Since the preseason of the 1992-93 season, Louderback’s teams have been in the national top 30 in all but two sets of ITA rankings and reached an all-time high of No. 2 (a total of 17 different times over the last five years).
After taking over a program looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance, Louderback has helped Notre Dame to the NCAAs 17 times in the last 18 years (which only 10 other schools have done), including nine appearances in the round of 16, four quarterfinal finishes and the program’s first-ever appearance in the semifinals in 2009. Louderback, a four-time Midwest Region Coach of the Year, has been honored as the BIG EAST Coach of the Year seven times in 14 seasons. In his time at Notre Dame, Louderback’s players have earned All-America honors 24 times, won six national ITA awards and earned 26 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 18 to the NCAA doubles tournament. In the fall of 2005, he delivered the first individual title at an ITA grand slam event, when juniors Catrina Thompson and Christian Thompson won the doubles crown at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships. The feat was repeated in 2007 as Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft won the doubles title at the ITA National Indoor Championships.
His players have dominated the University awards, leading all sports in both Byron V. Kanaley awards (nine) and Francis Patrick O’Connor awards (seven). His family was honored with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tennis Family of the Year Award in 2002 and, in 2006, Louderback was inducated into the USTA Missouri Valley Tennis Hall of Fame. The Arkansas City, Kan., native and 1976 graduate of Wichita State arrived at Notre Dame prior to the 1989-90 season after coaching for seven years at his alma mater and three years (men and women) at Iowa State.