Feb. 26, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team will continue Atlantic Coast Conference play this weekend, welcoming No. 34 Syracuse and No. 5 Virginia to the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The No. 26 Irish will play the Orange at 3:30 p.m. ET Friday, and take on the Cavaliers at 11 a.m. ET Sunday.
The Irish (6-3, 2-0 ACC) opened the conference slate with a pair of 4-3 road wins over Louisville and Pittsburgh a week ago. They will look to put three or more straight wins together for the first time this season, beginning with the match again the Orange (5-3, 0-2 ACC).
Syracuse is coming off a pair of losses to No. 56 Boston College and Virginia to open the ACC season. The Orange are 2-3 against teams ranked in the ITA top 75. They jumped 15 spots in the latest ITA rankings, and Louderback says their brash and loud style of play will be a departure from most Irish opponents.
Virginia (7-2, 1-0 ACC) opened its conference slate with a 6-1 win over Syracuse last weekend. The Cavaliers’ only losses are to No. 6 Baylor and No. 3 Florida, but they own wins over No. 2 Georgia, No. 4 USC, and No. 17 TCU.
The Cavaliers boast four players ranked in the ITA singles poll, including top-ranked player Julia Elbaba (3-1). No. 27 Stephanie Nauta (6-3), No. 32 Danielle Collins (4-2) and No. 108 Maci Epstein (7-2) also fill out Virginia’s lineup. On the doubles side, No. 23 Skylar Morton and Cassie Mercer (4-4) and No. 42 Elbaba and Nauta (2-4) provide the Cavaliers power. They will play Pittsburgh on Friday before their swing through South Bend.
“I think it’s a good matchup for us (with Virginia) because it’s a match we’re not favored in,” Louderback said. “In most of the matches we’ve been playing lately, we’ve been favored, so the pressure’s a little more on us now and that’s a match we can go out and just play because they’re ranked quite a bit higher than we are.”
RETURN TO REGULAR SCORING: The Atlantic Coast Conference has moved to re-implement the regular scoring format utilized in 2014. To begin the season, matches have been played with no-ad scoring, based on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s recommendations for increasing pace of play. Going forward, all conference matches will once again include an eight-game pro-set for the doubles point with a tiebreak at 7-7, and advantage scoring will be used. For women’s play, doubles play will be stopped once the doubles point is clinched, and singles will utilize a match tiebreak (first to 10 by two) in lieu of a third set once the match is clinched.
DOUBLE UP: In the latest ITA doubles poll, the tandem of Quinn Gleason and Monica Robinson fell to seven spots to No. 21, but remain one of eight ACC doubles sets in the top 25. The pair are 5-3 in the No. 1 slot for the Irish, but have dropped two matches to unranked opponents. Gleason and Robinson will likely face Virginia’s 23rd-ranked duo of Skylar Morton and Cassie Mercer on Sunday.
CONFERENCE CONFIDENCE: The Irish started the conference season with a pair of 4-3 road wins over Louisville and Pittsburgh, overcoming adversity in each match to earn the victory. Without No. 1 singles player Quinn Gleason in the match against the Cardinals, the Irish relied on their depth to pick up key wins on Courts 1, 3 and 4 to secure the win. Against the Panthers, the Irish won four singles matches, the fourth time this season the Irish have won four or more singles contests. It was just the second time the Irish have lost the doubles point this season, and the first in which they won the match in spite of it.
IRISH HOSPITALITY: The Leprechaun Legion will host a study-break brunch Sunday during the match with Virginia, offering free waffles to those in attendance.
Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant