Head coach Jay Louderback is in his 22nd season at Notre Dame, having led the Fighting Irish to unprecedented heights, including back-to-back NCAA semifinals appearances in 2009 and 2010.

Women's Tennis Earns Automatic Bid In NCAA Tournament, Will Travel To Coral Gables For Early-Round Action

April 29, 2008

Notre Dame, Ind. – The 22nd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (21-8) gained the BIG East conference’s automatic bid and was tabbed into the Miami (Fla.) sub-regional for their first- and second-round matches in the 2008 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship, it was announced Tuesday afternoon. Action will begin next Friday, May 9, at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center. The Irish will face Florida International in their first round match-up, with Miami (Fla.) and Quinnipiac to meet in the second match of the day. The winners of the Friday matches will meet in the sub-regional championship on Saturday, May 10, times to be determined.

Notre Dame, BIG EAST Conference champions and automatic bid recipient, has reached the NCAA Championship for the 13th consecutive season and 15th time in the last 16 years. The Golden Panther gained an at-large birth after faltering in the Sun Belt tournament championship, while the Hurricanes garnered one of the remaining 32 at-large bids. The Bobcats received an automatic bid after winning the Northeast Conference tournament title.

The winner of the second-round match will advance to Tulsa, Okla., which will play host to the final four rounds of the tournament at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center from May 15-26. The team emerging from Coral Gables will face the team from the Waco sub-regional that features No. 5 seed Baylor, as well as Oral Roberts, TCU and Tulsa.

Florida International went 4-0 in Sun Belt action during the regular season and advanced to the tournament final before dropping a close match, 4-3 to the No. 28 nationally ranked Denver. With the at-large bid, FIU will be making it’s fourth consecutive NCAA trip and sixth overall appearance. Miami (Fla.) is ranked 12th in the nation, third among teams in the ITA’s South Region. Miami (Fla.) was 8-2 in league play during the regular season to finish third in the ACC behind No. 3 Georgia Tech and No. 9 Duke. The Hurricanes reached the second round of the conference tourney, but fell 4-2 to the No. 15 nationally ranked Florida State Seminoles. Quinnipiac finished first in the Northeast Conference with a 2-0 mark, and went on to bring home the NEC tournament championship, defeating Long Island 4-2 in the finals.

The Irish did not earn a top 16 seed in the NCAA Championship for the first time in three seasons. Notre Dame attained its highest ever seeding two years ago, when it was tabbed the No. 2 seed in the event. Last season the Irish reached the quarterfinals – which equaled Notre Dame’s top performance in the event since moving up to the Division I level in 1985-86 (the Irish reached the quarterfinals in 1996 and 2006 as well).

The Irish will travel to Coral Gables, Fla. for their opening regional match-ups. This will mark the first time in the last three years that Notre Dame has failed to host the opening two rounds in the tournament. The Hurricanes will look to take advantage of their home courts, as they posted an impressive 7-2 mark at home, including a 4-3 win over then-No. 6 ranked Duke.

The Irish have made 15 NCAA appearances since their first trip in 1993, reaching the round of 16 on seven occasions and the 1996, 2006 and 2007 quarterfinals. Only 10 other schools have been invited to 14+ NCAA tournaments since `93: Arizona State, California, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Pepperdine, USC, Stanford, Texas and UCLA. The group of schools that have been in each of the last 12 NCAAs has just 18 members: all the above schools plus Fresno State, Miami, Northwestern, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Florida International and Notre Dame have never met in the history of the two programs. This will mark the fifth time that the Irish have played an opponent from the Sun Belt conference, going 3-1 in the previous four, including 2-0 under Jay Louderback.

Miami (Fla.) is a familiar foe, as the Irish and Hurricanes have played each other 18 times over their history, 16 of which came under Louderback’s regime. Notre Dame holds an 11-7 (10-6 under Louderback) advantage in the series. Nine of the two teams’ meeting came in the BIG EAST tournament championship match, with the Irish carrying a 5-4 advantage in those contests. The last time these two programs met came in the 2006 NCAA tournament where the No. 7 ranked Hurricanes defeated the No. 2 ranked Irish 4-0 in the quarterfinals.

Notre Dame and Quinnipiac have never met in women’s tennis. The Irish have never played any opponent from the Northeast Conference.

An incredible 18 of Notre Dame’s 29 matches from this season were against teams that qualified for the tournament: Vanderbilt (No. 11 seed), Georgia (No. 2 seed), Indiana, Illinois, William & Mary, Baylor (No. 5 seed), Louisville, USF, Texas A&M, Northwestern (No. 1 seed), Duke (No. 9 seed), North Carolina (No. 15 seed), Michigan, Georgia Tech (No. 3 seed), Ohio State and Wake Forest. The Irish went 11-7 against that group.

For the ninth consecutive year, the NCAA Championship features a field of 64 teams, consisting of 31 automatic-qualifying conference champions and 33 at-large selections. The first and second rounds will take place May 9-10 at 16 campus sites.

The draws for the NCAA Singles & Doubles Championships will be announced Wednesday on www.ncaasports.com. They will take place May 21-26 at Tulsa, with 64 singles players and 32 doubles teams competing. Since 1989, Notre Dame competitors have garnered 22 invitations to the national singles tournament and 15 to the doubles event.

For more information on the NCAA tournament, including a full NCAA tournamentnotes package and match start times, check back with und.com as thisinformation will be posted when it becomes available.

— ND —