ND Women's Tennis: Doubles matches crucial to Irish
By: COLIN BOYLAN
As the Notre Dame women's tennis team approaches a weekend face-off with Iowa and Virginia Tech, it has a pretty clear idea of what it will take to earn a pair of victories. Simply put, the team needs to win the doubles point.
In the 10 matches the Irish have played this season, the team has won the doubles point five times and lost five times. In each of those competitions, the winner of that point has gone on to win the match.
When the Irish take on the Hawkeyes on Friday and the Hokies on Sunday, they will need to be on top of their doubles games to improve on their 5-5 record so far this season.
"I don't know why [the doubles point has been such a strong indicator of success]," said head coach Jay Louderback. "I just think there's such parity in the college game today that the doubles point becomes crucial in a seven point match."
While on paper, one point shouldn't be a big deal against the No. 48-ranked Hawkeyes, the Irish realize that Iowa is much better than their 1-4 season record would indicate.
"Iowa's had lots of injuries this season but they're going to be at full strength this weekend," said sophomore Alicia Salas. "And they've always given us trouble in the past, so were treating this as a very important match."
"Iowa knocked us out of the NCAAs a couple of years ago, so we know how dangerous they can be," he said.
The Irish will follow up their Friday match by traveling to Blacksburg, Va. to take on the Hokies. Virginia Tech enters this weekend with a 6-2 record and a No. 75 national ranking.
As for Salas, she is just seeking to maintain the momentum she has built thus far in the season. A reserve player for much of her freshman year, the sophomore has emerged as one the Irish's most consistent threats this season.
Currently, she is riding a 13 match winning streak and building upon the strengths she developed in the off-season.
"I played lots of matches over the summer and worked on my serve a lot," said Salas about her success. "But we're working on team success above all."
All Sports Stories for Friday, February 22, 2002