March 7, 2006
The University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team is #2 in the first edition of the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings to be determined by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s computer formula, which was released on Tuesday. It is the highest ranking since becoming a Division I program for the Irish, who were fifth in last week’s listing, the final set determined by coaches’ voting. Notre Dame – off to an 11-0 start for the first time since 1983-84 – will defend its ranking on Friday, winding up a seven-match homestand against #49 Western Michigan at 3:30 p.m. (EST) in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
After being 22nd in the preseason – and dipping briefly to 23rd – Notre Dame has risen steadily in the rankings over the past month, first moving to 15th on Feb. 14, then to seventh a week later and to fifth last week. That ranking matched the highest in program history – first done on Feb. 28, 2001 – but this week the Irish soared to new heights.
Two-time defending NCAA champion Stanford (13-0) – which has won 69 consecutive matches dating back to the final of the 2003 NCAA tournament – remained at #1 for the 36th consecutive set of ITA rankings with a computer average of 100.75. Notre Dame, at 92.00, became the third school in as many weeks to occupy the #2 spot. USC – now ranked fifth with an 8-1 record (the loss a 5-2 decision against Stanford) – was there last week, while current #6 Florida – the last team to defeat the Cardinal – had been second in each of the nine previous sets of rankings. North Carolina – which is coached by former Irish player and assistant coach Brian Kalbas and fell 5-1 to the Irish on Feb. 12 – is third this week with an 83.33 average, while regional rival Northwestern is fourth at 82.39. Notre Dame and the Wildcats will face each other at the Courtney Tennis Center on April 5.
The Irish already have victories over seven teams currently listed among the national top 35, having beaten #3 North Carolina, #9 Harvard (5-2), #14 Wake Forest (4-3), #22 Brigham Young (5-2), #23 Michigan (6-1), #31 Tennessee (7-0), and #34 Indiana (7-0).
Following Friday, the Irish will head south for a tough spring-break trip, on which they will take on #7 Duke – which has prevailed in each of its 12 all-time meetings with Notre Dame – on Wednesday, March 15 in Sanlando Park in Orlando, Fla. The Irish will then play at #42 Texas A&M on Saturday, March 18 and at #10 Texas on Monday, March 20.