Feb. 22, 2006
After a trio of convincing victories against top-30 opponents, the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team jumped eight spots to #7 in the latest Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, which were released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) on Wednesday. It is the highest ranking for the Irish – off to a 7-0 start for the first time since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86 – since being seventh on April 18, 2001, and is just two spots off the top listing in program history. Notre Dame – which boasts five consecutive victories against top-30 teams – will return to action this weekend by playing host to #20 Brigham Young on Saturday at 11 a.m. (EST) and Wisconsin on Sunday at the same time, with both matches in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
The Irish began the season tied for 22nd in the ITA poll – which is determined by coaches’ voting until switching to a computer formula on March 7 – dipped briefly to 23rd, and then rose to 15th last week after big road victories at #23 Wake Forest (4-3) and #10 North Carolina (5-1). Notre Dame then followed that up by winning 6-1 at #30 Michigan and then coming home to beat #22 Tennessee (7-0) and #9 Harvard (5-2). This week was the most the Irish had risen from one set of rankings to the next since going up 21 spots to 27th on March 31, 2003.
This is the fourth different season in which Notre Dame has been ranked among the nation’s top 10 teams, following the 1995-96, ’96-97, and 2000-01 campaigns. The Irish peaked at sixth in ’95-96 en route to reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament and then were eighth in the preseason of the following season before falling out of the top 10. In 2000-01, Notre Dame would get up to a program-best ranking of #5 on Feb. 28 and finish 10th.
The top four of the poll – two-time defending NCAA champ Stanford (9-0), Florida (6-0), Texas (5-4), and USC (5-1) – remained unchanged this week, while Georgia Tech (4-1) slid up two spots to fifth, and Northwestern (7-1) rose two to sixth. Rounding out the top 10 are Duke (4-2), California (6-3), and North Carolina (9-2).
Notre Dame continued to be a steady presence among the top 30 in the ITA poll. Since the preseason of the 1992-93 season, the Irish have been among the top 30 teams in the country in 208 of 210 (99.0%) sets of ITA rankings.
In all, 18 of Notre Dame’s 23 regular-season opponents are listed among the 75 teams in this week’s rankings, with seven in the top 25: #3 Texas, #6 Northwestern, #8 Duke, #10 North Carolina, #13 Harvard, #14 Vanderbilt, #20 BYU, and #21 Wake Forest. Additionally, the Irish dropped a third-set tiebreaker in the last match remaining in a 4-3 exhibition loss to fourth-ranked USC during the fall. For the complete set of ITA rankings, see www.itatennis.com.
The women’s tennis team is the 10th Notre Dame squad to enter the national top 10 in 2005-06, joining women’s fencing (currently 1st), women’s soccer (peaked at 1st), men’s fencing (currently 2nd), women’s cross country (peaked at 3rd), football (peaked at 5th), women’s volleyball (peaked at 5th), men’s cross country (peaked at 5th), women’s basketball (peaked at 10th), and men’s lacrosse (currently 10th).