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Friday, June 21, 2024
The Observer

Irish return home to face Illini, Hoosiers

Coming off of a tournament weekend where No. 23 Notre Dame split two matches against No. 24 Arizona State and Oklahoma State in Evanston, Ill., the Irish (3-1) will return home for a pair of matches over this weekend, starting against Illinois on Friday and then facing Indiana on Sunday. This is the first time the Irish have faced off against the Fighting Illini (3-0) and the Hoosiers (3-0) this season.

When it comes to Illinois, Irish head coach Jay Louderback says he knows where his team will need to step up.

“They always play really good doubles,” Louderback said. “Maybe two of the last three years we’ve lost the doubles point to them. We’ve beaten them every time but it makes it a lot tougher and their doubles are always just really good.”

While his team looks to stymie the doubles play of the Illini, including senior Misia Kedzierski and freshman Louise Kwong, Louderback will also be dealing with an opposing coach he knows quite well. Illini head coach Michelle Dasso played for him at Notre Dame and was once his assistant.

“She was not only a good singles player but also a really good doubles player,” Louderback said of Dasso. “We get along, we’re very close. It’s hard playing them because I like to see them do very well … just not when we play them. She always has them ready to play.”

The Irish will likely counter the play of Illini with their own doubles teams, including sophomore Quinn Gleason and senior Britney Sanders.

On Sunday, the Irish turn their attention to Indiana. Louderback says the Hoosiers aren’t a team to be taken lightly.

“Indiana is good,” Louderback said. “They’re about the same as Illinois. I think Indiana is probably a little deeper than Illinois. They’re, from one to six, very similar. They have a good number one, and then from two to six they’re all the same.”

The Irish have also been playing as a well-balanced unit and have not surrendered a point in any of their three wins. Louderback sees these matches as a good litmus test as the Irish get closer to their first season of ACC play.

“[Illinois and Indiana] are two teams that’ll end up ranking anywhere between the top twenty and forty,” Louderback said. “This’ll be a good weekend for us.”

The Irish resume play against the Illini on Friday at 3:30 p.m., and will conclude the weekend’s play with a match against Indiana on Sunday at 10 a.m.