Jan. 4, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame women's tennis team has been tabbed in the preseason Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings for the 23rd straight season. The team will open its dual match schedule ranked 19th in the ITA polls, which was released Thursday evening. The Fighting Irish have appeared in every addition of the preseason ITA poll dating back to the 1990-91 season.
Beginning Jan. 22 and continuing bi-weekly through June 5, a new set of team rankings will be released. Starting Feb. 12 and continuing bi-weekly through June 5, new sets of singles and doubles rankings will be released.
Notre Dame placed among the top 20 of the first ITA poll for the seventh straight year, dating back to the 2006-07 season (4th). The Fighting Irish finished 2012 with a 21-8 record, ultimately reaching the second round of the NCAA Team Championship.
Known for playing one of the toughest schedules in the nation each season, Notre Dame will face 15 teams ranked in the preseason ITA top 75, with Duke (3), Georgia (6), Northwestern (13), Baylor (15), Michigan (16), Nebraska (17) and Georgia Tech (20) among the nation's top-20 teams.
Junior Britney Sanders (Ontario, Calif.) was the only Fighting Irish player included in the opening ITA singles poll, checking in at the 58th position, a career-best ranking. Sanders posted a 9-2 singles mark during the fall slate, reaching the final match of the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Championships in Urbana, Ill. last October.
Sanders and fellow junior Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) turned a successful fall campaign into a No. 20 ranking in the inaugural ITA poll, a career-high for both players. The pairing was 8-2 during the latter half of 2012, advancing to the championship match of the USTA/Midwest Regionals.
One other Notre Dame duo cracked the top-60 doubles tandems, as junior Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and sophomore Molly O'Koniewski (Hilton Head, S.C.) enter dual match play as the 40th-best team according to the ITA. Kellner and O'Koniewski logged a perfect 2-0 mark during fall play.
The Fighting Irish open the 2013 regular season Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. against Bowling Green inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion.