May 8, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team, familiarity will be on its side as the Fighting Irish make their 20th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship.
That the No. 34 Irish have a 34-21 all-time record in NCAA tournament matches is helpful, as is the fact that the Irish have won at least one match in 21 of its 22 all-time appearances. Head coach Jay Louderback was also fairly pleased with his team’s 2015 regional destination at host Texas A&M, which he says has both been kind to the Irish over the years, but will also be a new experience for all but his two seniors.
But perhaps the most helpful bit of information the Irish will draw on as they prepare to take on No. 17 TCU (18-8) in first-round action at 10 a.m. EDT Saturday at the Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas, is the knowledge that they have been in similar situations in the very recent past and have succeeded.
Just last season, the Irish made their first Round of 16 appearance since 2010, upsetting regional host Northwestern 4-3 to advance to the national site to face second-ranked Alabama. That experience, Louderback said, will be one the Irish can draw from as they face a tough path to Waco, Texas, with TCU and No. 10 Texas A&M standing in their way.
“I think last year going into Northwestern as a top 16 seed and beating DePaul (in the first round) and then beating Northwestern will help us for this year because we know we’ve done it,” Louderback said. “Except for [freshman Allison Miller], the rest all know that we’ve been able to do that in the past, so we’re excited to go down there.”
And despite a 14-10 record, Louderback has been pleased by his team’s attitude and ability to stay in matches all season long. He has only been able to identify one match throughout the entire season in which the Irish failed to put themselves in a position to win, in a 5-0 loss to Clemson in mid-April. Even in losses to Virginia and North Carolina, both top 16 seeds in this year’s tournament, Louderback thought his team gave itself an opportunity to win each.
“For us, the big thing is going in there and knowing we can play with anyone,” Louderback said. “If we do that, we’re going to have a good shot of coming out of there. The big thing is our kids knowing that.”
NCAA TOURNAMENT STRUCTURE: The Fighting Irish will begin their NCAA tournament journey on Saturday at Texas A&M, one of 16 regional hosts of the 64-team championship. Regional matches will take place May 9 and 10, with winners of each pod advancing to the NCAA Championship site at the Hurd Tennis Center in Waco, Texas, May 14-19. Following the conclusion of the team championship, the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will take place May 20-24.
Tournament matches will be regulation dual matches with three eight-game, pro-set doubles played for one team point, followed by six singles matches, each valued at one team point, played in best-of-three sets. Regular scoring will be used and a 12-point tiebreaker will be played at seven-games-all in doubles and at six-games-all in singles.
TEXAS A&M REGIONAL SCHEDULE:
Saturday, May 9
10 a.m. EDT — No. 17 TCU (18-8) vs. No. 34 Notre Dame (14-10)
1 p.m. EDT — No. 10 Texas A&M (15-5) vs. Alcorn State (11-12)
Sunday, May 10
2 p.m. EDT — Match 1 Winner vs. Match 2 Winner
TUSSLING WITH TCU: Notre Dame and TCU have met just twice in team competition, with the Fighting Irish owning a 2-0 record against the Horned Frogs. The teams most recently met in 2010, as Notre Dame scored a 7-0 victory at home. TCU put together a seven-match win streak to close the season before dropping to then-No. 8 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship semifinal. The Horned Frogs’ top doubles duo, Stefanie Tan and Seda Arantekin, rank just being Notre Dame’s Quinn Gleason and Monica Robinson at No. 30. They also boast two ranked singles players in No. 46 Simona Parajova and No. 90 Tan.
IRISH IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Notre Dame is making its 20th straight appearance in the NCAA Championship and 22nd overall. Their best finishes came in 2009 and 2010, when both teams reached the semifinal round. Last season, the Irish made it to the Round of 16 upsetting No. 16 Northwestern in the second round, but lost to No. 2 Alabama, 4-2. Notre Dame is 34-21 all-time in NCAA tournament matches and has only once failed to win at least one match in the tournament.
RANKINGS UPDATE: In the latest ITA team poll (May 1), Notre Dame moved up two spots to No. 34 despite falling in a close 4-3 decision in its opening round loss to Florida State at the ACC Championship. The Irish finished the regular season in seventh place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, mirroring their finish from a year ago.
DOUBLE DUTY: Since starting the season 2-2, 26th-ranked doubles tandem Quinn Gleason and Monica Robinson have won 12 of their last 14 for an 14-5 dual match record at No. 1 doubles, including an 8-3 mark in ACC play. The Irish duo rolled to an 8-4 victory in their match at No. 1 against Florida State in the ACC Championship loss, though fell to No. 29 in the latest ITA doubles rankings (May 1). The pair will play for an NCAA Doubles Championship, however, earning an at-large bid to the 32-team tournament that will follow the team championship at the Hurd Tennis Center Waco, Texas. It will be Gleason’s second trip to the NCAA Championship, having played in both the singles and doubles tournaments last season, while Robinson will be making her first appearance at the event.
FROM THE BOTTOM UP: The Irish have excelled at the bottom half of their singles lineup this season, with contributions on Courts 4, 5 and 6 proving valuable. Notre Dame owns a .552 (37-30) winning percentage at Nos. 4, 5 and 6, while their winning percentage at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 falls behind at .485 (34-36). The Irish get their best winning percentage on Court 5 (.636, 14-8), which is most often occupied by Allison Miller. The freshman owns an 12-7 record at No. 5, and is 15-7 in dual play this season (3-0 at No. 4).
ACC DOUBLES STAND OUT: The Atlantic Coast Conference owns six of the top 30 spots in the ITA Doubles rankings, including Robinson and Gleason.
Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant