May 12, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 20th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team begins its quest in the 2011 NCAA Team Championship at 10:00 a.m. (CT) on Friday, as they take on Fresno State in first round action.
Notre Dame and Fresno State have never met in program history, but the Irish do hold a 5-1 advantage (4-0 under Louderback) against other Western Athletic Conference (WAC) opponents.
Northwestern, the tournament’s 16-seed, takes on IPFW in the second match on Friday with the two winning teams facing each other at noon (CT) on Saturday in hopes of advancing to the Round of 16.
2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship
Evanston, Ill. – Vandy Christie Tennis Center
First Round – Friday, May 13
#20 Notre Dame (16-9) vs. #62 Fresno State (11-13), 10:00 a.m. (CT)
#14 Northwestern (20-7) vs. IPFW (27-3), 1:00 p.m. (CT)
Second Round – Saturday, May 14
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 18th time in head coach Jay Louderback’s tenure with the Irish, the team has advanced into the NCAA Team Tournament. The Irish earned a No. 2 seed in the Evanston, Ill. regional and and are the highest No. 2 seed overall in the 2010 NCAA Championship. A year ago, the Irish advanced to the semifinals for the second time in program history, reaching in each of the past two years. Notre Dame hosted early-round action, defeating IPFW, 4-0, in the first round and toppling Boise State, 4-0, in the second to move on the Round of 16. The Irish downed California, the team who eliminated them the previous year, 4-2, then bested Tennessee, 4-2, in the quarterfinals. Notre Dame fell to Stanford, 4-1, in the semifinal match.
This is the 12th 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.
Notre Dame has qualified for the team portion of the NCAA Championships for the 16th consecutive year and the 18th time in the last 19 seasons, all under the guidance of Louderback. The best finish for the Irish came last season with an appearance in the semifinals, matching the success of the ’09 season. Notre Dame has advanced to the quarterfinals on three occasions (1996, 2006, `07) and to the round of 16 four other times (1993, `94, 2000 and `01). The Irish have earned one of the top 16 seeds in the NCAA Championship eight times overall, having done so previously in 1996 (Nos. 5-8 seed), 1999 (No. 12), 2000 (Nos. 13-16), `01 (No. 13), `06 (No. 2), `07 (No. 6) and `09 (No. 5).
The Irish open NCAA tournament play on the road for only the second time in six years when they head to Evanston. The last time the Irish opened on the road, the team fell to host Miami (FL) in the second round in `08. Notre Dame is 29-17 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 17th time in 19 years, the Irish will have entrants in both the singles and doubles events this season. Junior Kristy Frilling earned her third straight invitation to the 64-player NCAA Singles Championship and will team with fellow junior Shannon Mathews in the doubles tournament. Mathews also will compete in the singles draw. The singles and doubles events will be held May 25-30 at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.
BIG EAST Awards Keep Rolling For The Irish: For the third consecutive year, a Notre Dame player has been tabbed the BIG EAST Player of the Year. Kristy Frilling earned the accolade on the heels of an 18-3 dual campaign at No. 1 singles. It is the second straight year Frilling has received the accolade and makes three straight years an Irish player has received it, with Kelcy Tefft winning in ’09.
Along with Frilling’s Player of the Year nod, head coach Jay Louderback, for the second straight year and ninth time since joining the BIG EAST, was named the conferences Coach of the Year.
Frilling also earned recognition on the all-BIG EAST team where she was joined by teammates Shannon Mathews, the BIG EAST Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and Jennifer Kellner, a freshman who climbed to the No. 3 court by season’s end.
Frilling and Mathews Selected to NCAA Individual Tennis Championships: Juniors Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) have been selected to compete in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships May 25-30 at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.
Frilling earned the BIG EAST’s automatic singles bid and the No. 5 seed, while she and Mathews were awarded the league’s automatic doubles selection. This will be Frilling’s third straight appearance in both the singles and doubles tournament. Mathews will compete in her first NCAA individual championship.
Frilling is the first Irish player to enter the singles tournament as one of the top eight seeds since Michelle Dasso earned the No. 4 seed in 2001.
She is ranked fifth in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll with an 18-3 record at No. 1 singles. She was named the BIG EAST Player of the Year and earned all-conference honors after totaling 15 wins over ranked opponents this season. Last season, Frilling advanced to the second round of the singles draw, while she and Kali Krisik advanced into the quarterfinals of the doubles draw.
Frilling and Mathews are the nation’s 15th-ranked doubles team and are 18-3 in dual matches at the No. 1 court in 2011, including currently occupying a 15-match winning streak. Mathews was named the BIG EAST Championship’s Most Outstanding Player after leading the Irish to their fourth straight conference title and earned all-conference honors for the third consecutive season.
Along with teaming with Frilling in the doubles draw, Mathews also will represent the Irish in single competition. The junior earned an at-large bid after a successful season at No. 2 singles that saw her go 19-3 including wins over six nationally-ranked opponents. The last time the Irish had two entrants in the singles draw was in ’09 when then-freshman Frilling and Kelcy Tefft both qualified.
This is the ninth year in a row that the Irish have had a player selected to compete in the NCAA Singles Championship and the fifth straight to be represented in the doubles tournament. Notre Dame has had 13 different players selected for the national tournament on 22 occasions, while 17 doubles team have earned a bid.
Sixty-four singles players and 32 doubles teams are selected for the NCAA Championships. The full list of singles and doubles players can be found at www.ncaa.com.
Irish See 16 Opponents Earn NCAA Bids: An impressive 16 of Notre Dame’s 25 opponents from the 2011 season earned bids to the NCAA Championships: Yale, Arkansas, North Carolina (No. 4 seed), Michigan (No. 10 seed), Vanderbilt, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia (No. 11 seed), Baylor (No. 5 seed), South Florida, Duke (No. 3 seed), Tennessee (No. 13 seed), Georgia Tech (No. 14 seed), Long Beach State, Texas A&M and Northwestern (No. 16 seed). The Irish went 8-9 against that group this season, including an impressive 4-0 win over then-No. 9 Virginia to capture the inaugural women’s Blue Gray Classic Championship.
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 11 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 has now won four consecutive championships from 2008-11.
The Irish have been the top seed heading into the tournament in 15 of their 16 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 nine occasions, while Notre Dame student-athletes have been tabbed the league championship’s Most Outstanding Player eight 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, while seven Irish players have been named to the All-BIG EAST Team since it began in ’09.
In 23 early-round matches (first round through semifinals), Notre Dame is undefeated, having registered 26 shutouts. Overall, the Irish are 38-5 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship.
Running the Gauntlet: The Irish tennis team faced one of the most difficult schedules in recent history, as 12 of their 22 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 4-8 in those matchups, including claiming a win over then ninth-ranked Virginia (4-0) to claim the inaugural women’s Blue Gray Classic championship.
In addition to the 12 teams ranked within the top 25, five additional opponents were ranked within the ITA top 50 with two more ranked just outside of that – Wake Forest (#54) and Utah (#51). In those seven additional matches, the Irish put together a record of 7-1.
Top of the Lineup To Ya: Notre Dame has enjoyed tremendous success this season at the No. 1 and 2 positions in singles. The two juniors, Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews, have put together a combined record of 37-8 (.822) during the dual season, with Frilling playing exclusively at No. 1 and Mathews getting time at both No. 1 and No. 2.
In 15 of the 23 matches that both players took to the court in singles, Frilling and Mathews have each claimed victories at their respective courts and when they have done so, the Irish boast a record of 12-3.
Doubles Dominance: The tradition of solid doubles play has continued this season for Notre Dame as the Irish have captured the doubles point in 17 of their 25 matches in 2011. On the season, the Irish have a combined record of 42-27 (.609) in doubles dual matches. The Irish are also a remarkable 18-4 (.818) at the No. 1 position, with Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews holding an 18-3 (.857) mark at the top spot.
Close Calls: While Notre Dame has suffered nine losses this season, almost all of them have seen the Irish battle until the very end. Of the nine losses taken this season, only one of them (Duke, 0-7) saw the Irish claim less than two points in the contest.
In fact, the Irish have lost by the closest possible of margins in five of their nine defeats, losing 4-3 to Arkansas, Michigan, Vanderbilt, Baylor and Northwestern. Not only were each of those five opponents ranked within the top 25 of the ITA rankings, but all were chosen to the NCAA Team Tournament with three of them (Michigan, Baylor, Northwestern) earning top-16 seeding in the field.
Irish Head Coach: Jay Louderback is in his 22nd season at Notre Dame with a 429-179 (.706) record and in his 32nd year as a collegiate coach with a 633-357 (.639) 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 18 seasons and have won 11 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 18 times in the last 19 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 nine times in 16 seasons. In his time at Notre Dame, Louderback’s players have earned All-America honors 27 times, won six national ITA awards and earned 29 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 20 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 (10) 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 and women) 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 athletic web site provides schedule and results information for varsity sports, along with game recaps and weekly releases. Fans can now follow Irish sports, including women’s tennis, on Twitter. Notre Dame fans can easily sign up at www.twitter.com/signup or by going directly to the Fighting Irish UND.com Twitter page at www.twitter.com/UND_com. In addition, media members and fans can sign up for Irish text alerts at UND.com