Aug. 29, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Eight matches against teams that finished 2002-03 ranked in the national top 25 highlight the spring schedule for the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team, announced today by head coach Jay Louderback. The Irish will open their season Sept. 25-28 in Peachtree City, Ga. in the adidas Invitational and will be at home just once in the fall — on Oct. 17 for an exhibition match against rival USC.
After the season-opening event, Notre Dame will head to the Kentucky Fall Classic in Lexington, Oct. 3-5. Then, just one day before the teams meet on the football field, Notre Dame and USC, which finished ’03 ranked fifth in the nation, will lock horns on the tennis courts. In continuing a tradition that began in 1989, the squads will face off in exhibition play on the Friday prior to the Trojans’ visit to Notre Dame Stadium. Concurrently with that match, Notre Dame and USC also will meet in men’s tennis action.
Over the following weekend, the Irish will travel to Kalamazoo, Mich. for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Championships, from Oct. 23-28. Then, in the final full-team event of the fall, Notre Dame will be in Champaign, Ill. for the Midwest Blast from Nov. 7-9.
In addition, a few top Irish players may participate in the Oct. 9-12 Riviera/ITA All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif. and the Nov. 6-9 National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich. Those are the first two of three legs in the collegiate grand slam, which concludes with the NCAA Singles & Doubles Championships in May, 2004. The field for the All-American Championships will be announced Sept. 8, while the qualifiers for the national indoors are released in October.
Notre Dame opens 2004 by taking part in the Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. before beginning dual-match play on Jan. 29 at Michigan. The Irish will have nine home matches, highlighted by visits from rivals Northwestern (April 15, ranked 18th at end of ’03) and Miami (April 4, 23rd), as well as Illinois (March 4), which was 22nd in the nation at the end of last year.
A brutal road slate includes five matches with teams that finished last year in the national top 15, but for the second time in five years, the Irish will leave the continental United States for regular-season action. Over spring break, Notre Dame will be in Wikaloa, Hawaii for matches against Duke (March 10) and Tennessee (March 13). The Blue Devils reached the final four in ’03 and finished the season ranked third in the nation after being listed No. 1 for the first time in school history earlier in the year. The Lady Vols finished ’03 ranked 10th in the nation. Notre Dame also visited Hawaii in January of 2000, winning two of three matches.
Other than those two difficult tests, the Irish will travel to William & Mary (April 10, eighth at end of ’03), North Carolina (March 28, ninth), and VCU (Feb. 13, 15th).
Notre Dame will face a pair of new opponents in 2004: VCU and Marquette (April 3 at home). The Irish and Rams have never met, while the Golden Eagles and Notre Dame played seven times from 1985-91, but have not seen each other since.
In addition, the Irish hope to garner an invitation to the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships, slated for Feb. 5-8 in Madison, Wis. The event, which is the most prestigious in-season tournament in the nation, consists of 16 of the best teams in college tennis. The Irish were in the field from 1994-2002.
The Irish will attempt to win their sixth crown at the BIG EAST Championship, slated for April 29-May 1 in Coral Gables, Fla. Notre Dame and Miami have met in the final each year since the Irish joined the conference in 1996. In ’03, the Irish delivered a thrilling 4-3 triumph in the final, with the match coming down to the No. 2 doubles match, where Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) came through with an 8-6 victory.
The ’04 NCAA tournament starts with first- and second-round action on campus sites May 14-16 before culminating with the final four rounds May 20-23 in Athens, Ga. That also will be the site of the season-ending NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, scheduled for May 24-29.
In all, Notre Dame will face a dozen teams that earned NCAA tournament berths a year ago and 16 that were ranked in the top 70 of last year’s final national rankings.
The Irish return six starters and nine monogram winners from last year’s team that was 16-9 and finished the season ranked 21st in the nation after falling in the second round of the NCAA Championship to Vanderbilt.