Nov. 7, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. --- The fall season is coming to a close for the Notre Dame women’s tennis team, and to wrap things up, the Irish are traveling to two different tournaments this weekend—the Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and the Western Michigan Super Challenge in Kalamazoo, Mich.
The three seniors on the Irish team, Jennifer Kellner, Julie Sabacinski and Britney Sanders, as well as junior Molly O’Koniewski will make the trip down to Florida with assistant coach Catrina Thompson while the rest of the squad heads to Michigan with head coach Jay Louderback.
“It’s a great tournament down there in Florida, and we just felt like it was good for our seniors,” explains Louderback. “Julie Sabacinski—we’ve been sending her every year because she’s from that area, so it’s nice for her to go down there. So we wanted the seniors to go and then we needed one other one, and Molly had a chance to hit on clay during fall break, which really helps.”
The Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic will be held outdoors and on clay, differing tremendously from the indoor tournament in Kalamazoo. While it is unusual for the Irish to get time playing on clay, Louderback says the experience can always help the players’ games.
“It’s a good experience because it’s a different game,” he says. “You have to think and play a lot of balls. It’s not like indoors where you just hit as hard as you can. That will be a great experience, especially for our seniors.”
Another reason that all of the seniors are traveling together is to split up the doubles teams that Notre Dame has been trying out this fall.
“In our early tournaments, we had three seniors on three different doubles teams,” Louderback says. “So this weekend, we wanted to split up the doubles teams just so that we could try something new. For us that’s going to be very big, just to see those different teams and see how they do.”
All of the doubles teams, in both Florida and Michigan, will be testing the waters for the Irish, which is incredibly important considering that the spring season (and the ACC) are right around the corner. Louderback insists that is what the fall season is for.”
“I think this fall has been great. I’ve been really happy with the way we’ve played, especially in our doubles. We had some who didn’t play a lot this summer, so they needed to get matches in. And I felt that they played well. We’ll see this weekend, but the reason that we have some good results is because our big thing is just getting a lot of matches in.”
Play for the Clay Court Classic begins tomorrow (Nov. 8) at the Athletic Center Lakewood Ranch and the Western Michigan Super Challenge gets underway Friday morning at Sorenson Courts as well.
“Both will be really good ends to the season,” Louderback says.
--Lauren Chval, Media Relations Assistant