Today the women’s tennis team heads to its ultimate test: the 2010 Big East Tournament in South Bend, Ind.
The women return to South Bend after two 6-1 losses last weekend to Big East opponents No. 22 DePaul and No. 5 Notre Dame, ending the dual season 12-13 (3-2 Big East).
The Golden Eagles earned the 5-seed in the tournament, and action will kick off today with a match against 12-seed Connecticut. Tomorrow the winner will face 4-seed Syracuse, which earned a bye into the second round.
The original bracket released Monday had Marquette at the 4-seed, but Big East officials announced the bracket change Tuesday morning.
Head coach Jody Bronson said she agrees with the change.
“I think the committee just looked at the information and realized they had made a mistake, and I feel that it was correct,” she said. “It is what it is.”
Bronson said the tough matches on the same courts at Notre Dame last week were key in preparation for the conference tournament.
“I think we realized that we can compete with these ranked teams,” she said. “We’re very prepared, and we know that this is the last four days of the season … we absolutely know what we want to accomplish here.”
Marquette faced neither UConn nor Syracuse this season but pulled off wins over each team when they met last spring.
The Golden Eagles claimed a 7-0 win over the Huskies during the 2009 season and downed the Orange in the Big East Tournament last year.
After finishing the 2010 season with a 6-10 record (4-6 Big East), the Huskies enter this year’s tournament in the lowest seed for the second consecutive year.
Throwing a wrench into the works is junior Rachael Hush’s recent injury, which will sideline her through the tournament.
“(Hush and junior Christina Ruiz) were a great No. 1 doubles team,” Bronson said. “You can’t really dwell on it, you just have to hope they have worked hard enough and have got what it takes.”
Hush and Ruiz have a 16–3 record at No. 1, but since Hush’s injury, Ruiz has been playing No. 3 with freshman Kelly Barry.
“I didn’t play too much doubles this year, and with a few people out at the end of the season now I’ve been playing with (Ruiz),” Barry said. “She’s a strong doubles player and we really complement each other with our game.”
Also in doubles, senior Maggie Wilson and sophomore Olga Fischer have stepped up to No. 1, and saw great success in a win over conference opponent Rutgers on April 9.
“I think we are coming in with a lot of momentum,” Wilson said. “We had a big win (at No. 1 against Rutgers), and I think it’s important that we keep our confidence behind that win and continue to play aggressive.”
The Huskies have secured the doubles point in each of their recent conference matches, and the Golden Eagles know they will need to fight for the early lead.
“We’re going to have to play very strong in doubles,” Bronson said. “(UConn is) playing really well in doubles and have been on a tear that way, and that’s going to be a challenge.”
Wilson said the team is up to the challenge and the women are ready to do their best and put up a fight throughout the tournament.
“I think we’ve all kind of come together and accepted that these are our last few matches of the season, so we really have to give it all we have and finish on a good note,” she said.
Bronson said the team is ready to take the tournament one day at a time and focus on each obstacle as it comes.
“They’re fired up,” she said. “We hope they can go all the way here.”