Jan. 27, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
Coming off a 3-0 homestand, the 21st-ranked University of Notre Dame women's tennis team gets its first taste of road action this weekend at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Irish face off with Yale in the opener Saturday at 2:00 p.m. (ET).
The ITA Kick-Off Weekend features 60 teams competing for 15 vacant spots at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, which takes place next month (Feb. 10-13) in Charlottesville, Va. As a result of hosting the tournament, Virginia earns automatic qualification into the 16-team field, while the winning team from each of the designated four-team pods will fill the remaining 15 vacancies.
Notre Dame squares off with Yale in the opener of the event, with the Irish serving as the two-seed in the draw and the Bulldogs as the three. The Irish enter the weekend ranked 21st according to the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll (Jan. 24), while Yale (0-0) is ranked 35th.
This will be the sixth all-time matchup between the two squads, with the Irish holding a 4-1 advantage in the series. Under the direction of 23rd-year head coach Jay Louderback, the Irish are 4-0 against Yale, including a decisive 7-0 victory last season in the opening round of the 2011 ITA Kick-Off Weekend at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Notre Dame's doubles pairing of Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) as well as Britney Sanders (Ontario, Calif.) and Katherine White (Columbus, Ga.) rank fifth and 25th, respectively, in the ITA rankings, while Yale enters the contest with no players ranked in either singles or doubles.
The winner of Saturday's opening-round tilt then faces the winner of the Michigan versus Maryland matchup for the championship on Sunday (2:00 p.m.), while the two losing teams also will take part in a consolation matchup earlier in the day (10:00 a.m.). Michigan (1-0) enters the weekend as the top-seeded team and ranks 10th nationally, while Maryland (1-0) is seeded fourth and ranks 40th.
Should the Irish cross paths with the Wolverines, they carry with them a 22-10 advantage in the series, including claiming three of the last four decisions. Michigan, however, did win the last contest with a 4-3 triumph at the Eck Tennis Pavilion last season. Notre Dame and Maryland, meanwhile, have only met on two occasions with the last encounter coming during the 2000 campaign. The Irish hold a 2-0 advantage in the series.
Emina Bektas (36th), Brooke Bolender (46th), Sam Critser (53rd) and Mimi Nguyen (113th) lead the way for Michigan in the singles rankings, while Bolender and Bektas (24th) also rank nationally in doubles. Maryland, meanwhile, features 28th-ranked Cristina Stancu and 111th-ranked Kim Berghaus in singles as well as the 37th-ranked pairing of Ana Belzunce and Welma Luus in doubles.
Radiotennis.com will be broadcasting each of the four matches from this weekends pod, as well as providing interviews with coaches and players throughout the weekend. For access to these match broadcasts, please visit their site through this link .
For additional coverage of this weekends festivities in Ann Arbor, be sure to visit the tournament central page at mgoblue.com with stats for the matches available here . Also check back with UND.com for a complete recap of the Irish from each day of competition.