Irish return home to face William and Mary, Iowa
By STEVE KEPPEL
It's been road trip after road trip for the women's tennis team in the past weeks, and they are finally returning home this weekend to take on Iowa and William and Mary. Notre Dame returns to the Courtney Tennis Center with a 15-4 record, as well as a number seven ranking. The Irish had won nine of their last 10 before a disappointing loss to 9th ranked Tennessee last Sunday. Previously on a roll, the Irish had won five in a row before the 6-1 defeat by the Volunteers.
"Naturally, we were disappointed, but after a loss we are usually all the more ready to come out and do well," said junior Nina Vaughan.
The Irish have been working hard this week and are very determined to win the rest of their matches and get a high seed in the NCAA tournament.
"I feel sorry for Iowa and William and Mary," said Becky Varnum. "It was a hard loss against Tennessee, but it inspired us to really work hard. The last three days have been hard workouts to get us match tough," said Varnum.
"Every time we go out on the court [for practice], we are very intense and work very hard," added Vaughan.
First up for the Irish are the Hawkeyes of Iowa, who are 7-5 and 2-2 in the Big Ten. The no. 36 Hawkeyes are 4-4 on the road this season and are lead by the Bulgarian duo of Toni Neykova and Deni Alexandrova. The Irish hold a 5-1 advantage over the Hawkeyes with their only loss coming in the 1999 NCAA tournament.
"We definitely have memories against Iowa," said Vaughan referring to the 1999 loss. "This is a big weekend. We're ready."
"We're definitely going to be out to get them," said Varnum. "Psychologically, Iowa is tough, and we will fight hard against them, after a loss or not."
On Sunday, the Irish women will go against a determined William and Mary team. William and Mary is 6-7 coming off a win over Richmond and a loss to second ranked Duke last weekend. The 42nd ranked Tribe is lead by senior standout Lindsay Sullivan, who is one win away from breaking into the school's top ten wins list. Sullivan could give recently struggling Michelle Dasso a run for her money this weekend at the number one singles spot.
"They are definitely a good team capable of playing above their rank William and Mary always plays well. We are expecting to have a really good match with them," said Varnum. "Their whole team is pretty solid."
This weekend marks the first time in three weeks that the Irish have played at home. They currently have a 10-3 record on the road this spring but have only one loss at the comfortable confines of the Courtney Center.
"It's been tough playing on the road all the time," said Varnum. "We are really excited to play at home Every time we get a home match it seems a little special to us and hopefully we will get some great support from the fans this weekend."
All Sports Stories for Friday, March 30, 2001