DePaul women’s tennis wins Big East Championship

A weekend in Flushing Meadows, New York, was important for the DePaul women’s tennis team. It was important because, despite their 19-3 record in the 2014 regular season, they were still down in the rankings. They needed to win the Big East Tournament to ensure them a spot in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

Three days later, the Blue Demons were conference champions after beating Villanova, St. John’s and then finally Xavier in the championship. They were headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010, and Patricia Fargas was named Big East Tournament Most Outstanding player.

“Hard work pays off,” Fargas said. “All season long, we’ve been working so hard and going away for tournaments so many times, and at the end to get this trophy was kind of a relief, like, ‘I made it.'”

Fargas went 3-0 each in singles and doubles play during the tournament, helping set up the tournament victory for the Blue Demons.

The award has not been the only accomplishment by the Blue Demons this season. Earlier this year, senior Kelsey Lawson earned her 100th win, becoming only the third DePaul women’s tennis player to reach that accomplishment. Sophomore Ana Vladutu was announced as the first ever DePaul player to be invited to play in the NCAA Singles tournament.

“The Big East Tournament capped off a great regular season, and we reached all of our goals,” head coach Mark Ardizzone said. “But what has really impressed me the past few days is that they all still want more.”

DePaul will have the opportunity to earn more out of this season May 8 when they take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Irish and DePaul are no strangers, having been conference opponents up until this year when Notre Dame switched to the ACC.

“We know what the team can do, and we have notes on what every player can do,” Ardizzone said. “It’ll be an interesting battle.”

Ardizzone added neither team lost many players after last season. The bottom players may be a little different, but the top players seemed to have remained the same. There may be different lineup positions from last year when Notre Dame beat the Blue Demons 4-3 in the semifinals of the Big East tournament, but Ardizzone is confident that they know what to expect from Notre Dame.

“It’s all going to come down to who executes better that day,” he said.

Fargas believes the familiarity with playing against Notre Dame will help them in the first round game.

“I think it’s an advantage that we’ve played them so many times,” Fargas said. “We can do it, we just have to get it done.”

The first round will take place in Evanston on the home courts of the Northwestern Wildcats, not too far out from DePaul’s campus. After not having many home matches this year, Fargas is excited to play the big match in Chicago.

“Normally, we don’t have the chance to get people to come to our matches because we only have two home matches or so per season,” Fargas said. “Playing in Chicago will give us the chance to have a lot of fans come out to support us, which is going to be super nice.”

The Blue Demons practiced at the Northwestern courts this fall and have played a couple of tournaments there this year, leading to what Ardizzone says is a familiarity about the complex.

“It’s going to be very familiar to us, but Notre Dame will have that feeling too since they play there all the time,” he said.