Head coach Jay Louderback and the Fighting Irish recently inked two blue chip prospects from the Class of 2017 to National Letters of Intent

Irish Set To Face Hawai'i In First Round Of 2012 NCAA Championship

May 10, 2012

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 20th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team begins its quest in the 2012 NCAA Team Championship at 11 a.m. (CT) Friday at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center, as the squad takes on Hawai’i in first round action.

Notre Dame and Hawai’i have met five times in program history with the Irish leading the series 5-0. This will mark the second meeting between the two squads this season, with Notre Dame having defeated Hawai’i 6-1 on March 14.

Northwestern, the tournament’s 13-seed, takes on Akron in the second match Friday with the winning team from each match facing off at noon (CT) Saturday for a spot in the round of 16.

2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship

Evanston, Ill. – Vandy Christie Tennis Center

First Round – Friday, May 11

#20 Notre Dame (20-7) vs. #52 Hawai’i (15-6) – 11 a.m. (CT)

#12 Northwestern (18-8) vs. Akron (24-3) – 2 p.m. (CT)

Second Round – Saturday, May 12

Winner of Match 1 vs. Winner of Match 2 – Noon (CT)

Live stats available at www.nusports.com

Irish Return To NCAA Championship: For the 19th time in head coach Jay Louderback’s tenure with the Irish, the team has advanced into the NCAA Team Tournament. For the second consecutive year, Notre Dame earned a No. 2 seed in the Evanston, Ill., regional. The Irish enter ranked 20th overall while the No. 1 seed and host Northwestern Wildcats are ranked 12th nationally with an 18-8 record. Last season, the Irish advanced to the second round of the Championship after posting a shutout victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs (4-0) in their opener. Notre Dame’s season came to an end the following day as the host Wildcats put the Irish away by an identical 4-0 score.

This is the 13th year in which the NCAA Team Championship will consist of a 64-team field (31 conference champions plus 33 at-large entries). The first two rounds of the team championship are held at 16 campus sites awarded to the highest ranked 16 teams nationally.

Notre Dame has qualified for the team portion of the NCAA Championship for the 17th consecutive year and the 19th time in the last 20 seasons, all under the guidance of Louderback. The best finishes for the Irish came during the ’08-’09 and ’09-’10 seasons when the team advanced to back-to-back semifinal appearances. In total, Notre Dame has advanced to the quarterfinals on three occasions (1996, 2006, 2007) and to the round of 16 four other times (1993, 1994, 2000, 2001). The Irish have earned one of the top 16 seeds in the NCAA Championship eight times overall, having done so previously in 1996 (No. 5-8 seed), 1999 (No. 12), 2000 (No. 13-16), 2001 (No. 13), 2006 (No. 2), 2007 (No. 6), 2009 (No. 5) and 2010 (No. 5).

The Irish open NCAA tournament play on the road for only the third time in the last seven years when they head back to Evanston as the team looks to avenge last year’s season-ending loss to the Wildcats. Notre Dame is 30-18 all-time in the NCAA Championship and has won at least one match in all but one of its previous appearances in the national tournament. The Irish also had a good deal of success in the NCAA Tournament before moving up to the Division I level. In its final four years as a Division II competitor, Notre Dame tied for sixth in the AIAW national tournament in 1982, then took third in the NCAAs a year later, repeated that finish in 1984 and was the runner-up to Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1985.

In addition to its recent team success, Notre Dame has sent at least one player to either the NCAA singles or doubles tournament every year since 1989. For the 18th time in 20 years, the Irish will have entrants in both the singles and doubles events this season. Senior Shannon Mathews earned her second consecutive invitation to the 64-player NCAA Singles Championship and will team with fellow senior and four-time All-American Kristy Frilling in the doubles tournament. The singles and doubles events will be held May 23-28 at the Dan Magill Tennis Center in Athens, Ga.

Irish Cop Honors From BIG EAST Conference: For the fourth consecutive year, a Notre Dame player has been tabbed the BIG EAST Player of the Year. After Kristy Frilling claimed back-to-back honors in ’10 and ’11, fellow senior Shannon Mathews took center stage in 2012, claiming BIG EAST Player of the Year for the first time in her career. Now-assistant coach Kelcy Tefft started the four-year run for the Irish, earning the recognition following her senior season in ’09.

Along with Mathews’ player-of-the-year nod, head coach Jay Louderback – for the third straight year and 10th time since joining the BIG EAST – was named the conferences Coach of the Year. He helped lead the Irish to a 20-7 season and their fifth consecutive conference championship.

Frilling earned her own share of hardware as she brought home the ’12 BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player award after putting together perfect 3-0 ledgers in both singles and doubles. She, along with Mathews and Britney Sanders, also earned a spot on the ’12 all-BIG EAST team for their respective season successes.

Frilling And Mathews Headed Back To NCAA Individual Championships: Fellow senior co-captains Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews have again been selected to compete in the NCAA Doubles Championship, while Mathews also has been tabbed for the NCAA Singles Championship. The 64-person singles tournament and 32-team doubles tournament will both be held May 23-28 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.

Mathews earned the BIG EAST’s automatic singles bid after a stellar 20-9 season, while she and Frilling were awarded the league’s automatic doubles selection and a No. 5-8 seed in the draw. This will be Mathews’ second straight appearance in the singles and doubles tournament, while Frilling will be making her fourth consecutive appearance in doubles action.

Frilling and Mathews enter the doubles championship as the nations eighth-ranked doubles tandem after putting together a 27-9 season. The pairing started the year with an 8-3 fall season that saw them reach the championship match of the ITA National Individual Indoor Championship before posting a 19-6 dual-match record en route to the team finishing with a 20-7 record. The pairing has played at the No. 1 position for the Irish for the past two dual seasons.

Mathews, meanwhile, earned her auto bid after putting together a 17-7 dual record including a 13-7 mark at the No. 1 court after making the transition five matches in to the season. She recorded five wins against nationally-ranked opposition including a victory over Texas A&M’s then-seventh ranked and previously undefeated Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (13-11)), helping her climb as high as 32nd in the national polls.

This is the 10th year in a row that the Irish have had a player selected to compete in the NCAA Singles Championship and the sixth straight to be represented in the doubles tournament. Notre Dame has had 13 different players selected for the national tournament on 23 occasions, while 17 doubles teams have earned a bid on 20 occasions.

The full listing of the 64 singles players and 32 doubles teams can be found at www.ncaa.com.

Thirteen Opponents Named To NCAA Championship Field: An impressive 13 of Notre Dame’s 23 opponents during the 2012 season earned bids to the NCAA Championship. Additionally, five of those 13 opponents earned one of the tournament’s top 16 seeds in the draw. The list consists of (seeding in parentheses): Duke (3), North Carolina (7), Baylor (12), Northwestern (13), Michigan (15), Illinois, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Hawai’i, Yale, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. The Irish posted a record of 6-7 in those contests but were 0-5 in their five matches against the seeded teams.

Irish Continue Dominance 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 12 conference titles. The Irish won titles in their first two BIG EAST seasons, before falling to Miami as a runner-up in 1998. Notre Dame then won three titles from 1999-2003 before returning as back-to-back champs in 2005 and 2006. After a runner-up finish to South Florida in 2007, Notre Dame has now won five consecutive championships from 2008-12.

The Irish have been the top seed heading into the tournament in 16 of their 17 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 10 occasions, while Notre Dame student-athletes have been tabbed the league championship’s Most Outstanding Player nine times.

Notre Dame had 13 different players earn a place on the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team when the conference announced the honor from 2003-08, while eight different Irish players have been named to the all-BIG EAST team since it began in ’09.

In 29 early-round matches (first round through semifinals), Notre Dame is undefeated, having registered 28 shutouts. Overall, the Irish are 41-5 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship and 30-1 against current members of the league.

All-Time Records Against Current BIG EAST Teams: Over their span of membership within the BIG EAST since 1995-96, the Irish have enjoyed unprecedented success against their conference foes. Overall, the Irish carry a stellar 72-3 overall mark against current members of the BIG EAST, including a sparkling 30-1 mark in the BIG EAST Championship.

Running The Gauntlet: As has become the norm with the program, the Irish tennis team faced one of the most difficult schedules in the country, as 10 of their 23 opponents on the season entered their matchup with the Irish ranked in the top 25 nationally, according to the ITA. Notre Dame amassed a record of 4-6 in those matchups, including claiming a 4-3 win over then 16th-ranked Georgia Tech for their highest ranked win of the season.

In addition to the 10 teams ranked within the top 25, three opponents were ranked within the ITA top 50 with five more opponents ranked between 51-75 in the polls. Against those eight opponents, the Irish put together a 9-1 record after earning two wins apiece over both DePaul and USF.

Top Of The Lineup To Ya: Notre Dame has yet again enjoyed tremendous success this season at the No. 1 and 2 positions in singles. The two senior co-captains, Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews, have put together a combined record of 35-16 (.686) during the dual season. This season, both players took the court in all 27 of Notre Dame’s matches and Notre Dame went a perfect 12-0 when both players earned wins at their respective court.

The two seniors have been mainstays at the top of the singles lineup for three consecutive seasons and during that time have posted a combined record of 111-43 (.721). Additionally, they have held down the No. 1 doubles court for two consecutive years, now holding a record of 38-10 (.792) in those contests.

Doubles Dominance: The tradition of solid doubles play has continued this season for Notre Dame as the Irish have claimed the doubles point in 23 of their 27 matches in 2012. On the season, the Irish have a combined record of 61-17 (.782) in doubles dual matches. The Irish also are a remarkable 21-6 (.778) at the No. 1 position, with Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews holding a 19-6 (.760) mark at the top spot.

Close But No Cigar: A year after suffering eight of their nine regular season losses by 5-2 or closer margins, Notre Dame again succumbed to narrow defeats three times of their seven losses this year. The Irish lost 4-3 to Yale, North Carolina and Northwestern, and the loss to the Tar Heels saw Notre Dame fail to hold on to a 3-0 advantage in the contest.

The Irish did reverse their tough-luck fortune in three contests, however, holding on for 4-3 victories of their own against Illinois, Georgia Tech and Texas Tech.

Irish Head Coach: Jay Louderback is in his 23rd season at Notre Dame with a 450-187 (.706) record and in his 33rd year as a collegiate coach with a 654-365 (.642) 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 19 seasons and have won 12 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 six years).

After taking over a program looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance, Louderback has helped Notre Dame to the NCAAs 19 times in the last 20 years (which only 10 other schools have done), including nine appearances in the round of 16, four quarterfinal finishes and back-to-back semifinal appearances in 2009 and 2010. Louderback, a four-time Midwest Region Coach of the Year, has been honored as the BIG EAST Coach of the Year 10 times in 17 seasons.

In his time at Notre Dame, Louderback’s players have earned All-America honors 28 times, won six national ITA awards and earned 30 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 21 to the NCAA doubles tournament. In the fall of ’05, 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 Championship. The feat was repeated in ’07 as Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft won the doubles title at the ITA National Indoors.

His players have dominated the University awards, leading all sports in both Byron V. Kanaley awards (11) 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 inducted 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’s and women’s) at Iowa State.

Keeping Up With Notre Dame Tennis: For the latest Irish women’s tennis news, results and statistics, visit UND.com. The official athletics web site provides schedules and results information for varsity sports, along with game recaps and weekly releases. Fan can also follow the Irish women’s tennis team through several social media outlets including Facebook at Facebook.com/NDWomensTennis and Twitter @NDWomensTennis or @NDSIDBrent. For news on all things Fighting Irish, fans can also follow @UND_com or receive text alerts via UND.com.