March 5, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 31 University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team will get its first taste of outdoor play as Spring Break begins when the Irish head south to take on No. 21 Miami in an ESPN3-broadcast match Sunday before making their way to Puerto Rico. There, the Irish will take on East Carolina and LIU Brooklyn on Tuesday, then spend the remainder of the break taking advantage of the Caribbean climate.
WHAT: Matches 13, 14 & 15
WHO: No. 31 Notre Dame (8-4, 3-1 ACC) at No. 21 Miami (5-4, 2-2 ACC) | vs. East Carolina (6-4) | LIU Brooklyn (0-5)
WHEN: 10 a.m. ET March 6, 2016 | 9 a.m. & 3 p.m. ET March 8, 2016
WHERE: Neil Schiff Tennis Center (Coral Gables, Fla.) | Puerto Rico
WATCH: ESPN3 vs. Miami
The Hurricanes will face their 10th straight ranked opponent when they welcome the Irish to Coral Gables, Florida, on Sunday. Miami is 2-2 in ACC play, with wins over then-No. 24 Georgia Tech (Jan. 29) and No. 71 Florida State (March 2) and losses to then No. 6 North Carolina (Feb. 26) and then-No. 9 Duke (Feb. 28). They boast four players ranked in the current Oracle/ITA singles rankings: No. 7 Sinead Lohan (6-1), No. 8 Stephanie Wagner (7-1), No. 39 Yolimar Ogando (0-0 dual play), and No. 73 Wendy Zhang (5-3). They also claim two ranked doubles duos: No. 11 Wagner and Zhang (5-4) and No. 59 Wagner and Clementina Riobueno (0-0 dual play). The Irish are 11-9 in the all-time series with the Hurricanes, including 10-8 under head coach Jay Louderback. Last season, Notre Dame fell in a 5-2 decision to Miami at home.
Scouting East Carolina
East Carolina has won four of its last six matches heading into play in Puerto Rico. The Irish will be the fifth of six teams the Pirates face between March 6-8. ECU is led by Celia Ruiz, who is 9-1 on the spring, while Sarah Sarjoo is 8-2 for the Pirates. In doubles, Ruiz and Nicole LaDuca are 9-0 atop the lineup. The Irish and Pirates first met last season during Notre Dame’s Spring Break, with the Irish winning 4-0.
Scouting LIU Brooklyn
The Blackbirds have not yet won this season, falling in decisions to UMass, NJIT, St. John’s, Stony Brook and Yale. They will play East Carolina and Armstrong State in Puerto Rico, in addition to the Irish. Tuesdays will be the first meeting between Notre Dame and LIU Brooklyn.
The Irish dropped one spot to No. 31 in this week’s Oracle/ITA Women’s Team Rankings after splitting a pair of ACC matches against Boston College (W) and Syracuse (L) last weekend. In last week’s singles poll, senior Quinn Gleason improved to No. 41 in the rankings and is now 7-3 on the season. Additionally, junior Monica Robinson entered the rankings last week and now boasts a 9-3 mark on the spring. Gleason and Robinson dropped six spots in the doubles rankings, from No. 15 to No. 21.
Last Time Out
Close matches marked the first ACC road trip for the Irish, who defeated Boston College 4-3 on Friday, but fell to Syracuse by the same score Sunday. Both matches came down the final singles decision. On Friday, strong singles play lifted the Irish after losing the doubles point, with Monica Robinson, Mary Closs, Brooke Broda and Jane Fennelly all offering up big wins, including Fennelly with the three-set clincher. They couldn’t find the same lift Sunday, as the Irish won just one of three three-set singles matches and couldn’t overcome the loss of the singles point.
ITA Rules Changes
This season, the NCAA with the support of the ITA, will utilize a no-ad scoring format for the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s tennis championships. If a game reaches deuce, the next point will win the game. Additionally, eight-game pro-sets will no longer be utilized in doubles matches, with teams playing one set to six, with a tiebreak at six-all. At the individual doubles championships, matches will consist of the best-of-three sets, with a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set. The rules changes are designed to improve the pace of play in championship matches.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.