Aug. 15, 2005
Nine teams that finished the 2004-05 campaign in the top 20 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings – including seven that reached the final 16 of the NCAA Championship – will highlight the 2005-06 schedule for the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team, announced today. The Irish will have a busy fall slate, which includes an exhibition match with traditional power USC at home on Oct. 14 a day before the schools meet in football, prior to commencing the difficult spring schedule on Saturday, Jan. 28 with a home doubleheader.
In all, 19 of the 23 teams on Notre Dame’s schedule ended last year ranked among the top 55 in the nation, while 16 earned bids to the NCAAs. Among the top challenges on the Irish spring slate will be matches with Wake Forest (finished 26th, NCAA second round, Feb. 11, away), North Carolina (11th, quarterfinals, Feb. 12, away), Tennessee (18th, second round, Feb. 18, home), Harvard (16th, round of 16, Feb. 19, home), Brigham Young (22nd, second round, Feb. 25, home), Duke (17th, second round, March 15, Orlando, Fla.), Texas (3rd, NCAA runner-up, March 20, away), Vanderbilt (8th, round of 16, March 29, away), Northwestern (5th, round of 16, April 5, home), and Tulane (15th, round of 16, April 15, away).
The Irish home schedule will feature one fall exhibition match and 13 more contests in the spring. In addition to tough home tests with Tennessee, Harvard, Brigham Young, and Northwestern, Notre Dame will welcome a few different teams. The Crimson will be making its first-ever visit to campus for women’s tennis action, while new BIG EAST member DePaul (April 7) will return for the first time since 1985. The spring season opens with a home doubleheader against Ohio State (11 a.m.) and Xavier (4 p.m.). It will be the first visit by the Musketeers since the fall of 1978. Matches will take place at the Courtney Tennis Center, unless weather forces them into the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Admission is free.
Notre Dame will begin the season next month, traveling to the Maryland Invitational in College Park from Sept. 23-25. The next weekend (Sept. 30-Oct. 2) will see the Irish take part in the Hoosier Classic in Bloomington, Ind. The first leg of the collegiate grand slam, the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships, will be from Oct. 6-9 in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and will precede the only home date of the fall season.
On Friday, Oct. 14, Notre Dame and USC will resume a tradition of playing in both men’s and women’s tennis in the Eck Tennis Pavilion on the day prior to the teams hooking up in football in Notre Dame Stadium. The Women of Troy reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last spring and finished ranked #7. This will be the fourth consecutive time that the teams have played in women’s tennis on the eve of the football game at Notre Dame, with the Irish taking the most-recent meeting (4-3 in 2003) after dropping the two prior to that (5-4 in 1999; 5-2 in 2001).
Notre Dame will head to East Lansing, Mich., from Oct. 20-25 for the ITA Midwest Championships before the fall season wraps up over the first weekend of November. That will see some of the Irish take part in the second grand slam, the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in Columbus, Ohio, while the majority will play in Midwest Blast VII in Urbana, Ill.
In all, Notre Dame will play matches in 12 states and 19 different cities in 2005-06. Among the notable trips will be the team’s first visit to New Orleans (April 15 vs. Tulane) since 1982 and its first to College Station, Texas, (March 18 at Texas A&M) since ’92. The Irish will play in Nashville, Tenn., for a regular-season match for the first time (March 29 at Vanderbilt) after taking on the Commodores there in the 2003 NCAA second round. Notre Dame’s season-opening tournament will mark just its second-ever trip to College Park, Md., (also in the fall of 2000), while the Irish will play a neutral-site match against Duke on March 15 in Orlando, Fla. That will be Notre Dame’s first action in that city since 2001 (the adidas College Invitational) and its first-ever dual match there.
Sixteen of the 22 teams on Notre Dame’s spring schedule also faced the Irish last season (with ND going 8-10), while two others were on the slate in 2003. Notre Dame will play Tulane for the first time since the 2001 NCAAs, with the only previous regular-season match coming in 1982. It will be the first contest with DePaul since 1999 and the first vs. Texas A&M since ’93. The Irish will take on Xavier in women’s tennis for just the second time, with the initial meeting coming in 1978, just the third season of the ND varsity program.
In addition to the scheduled dual matches, the Irish hope to earn an invitation o the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championship, slated for Feb. 2-5 in Madison, Wis.
With the departure of Boston College to the Atlantic Coast Conference and the addition of five new institutions, the BIG EAST Conference has a different look in 2005-06. Notre Dame will play a pair of new league teams at home during the regular season (April 7 vs. DePaul, April 9 vs. Marquette), and the BIG EAST Conference Championship – scheduled for April 19-22 in Tampa, Fla. – will have an expanded format, as the top eight teams will compete for the league title. The Irish have reached the final of that event in all 10 years since becoming a league member, winning six titles (including in 2005 with a 4-0 win over Syracuse in the final). Among the top newcomers is South Florida (the tournament host), which finished third in Conference USA last season and was ranked 49th nationally.
The 2006 NCAA Championship begins May 12-13 with first- and second-round action on 16 campus sites and concludes with the final four rounds of competition from May 18-21 in Stanford, Calif. The NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships run from May 22-28 in the same location.
This year’s Notre Dame squad returns nine of its 10 players – including each of the top five – from last year’s team that finished 15-10, won the BIG EAST championship and reached the second round of the NCAAs before finishing 24th.