As the season wears on and the road games pile up, the No. 31 USF women’s tennis team (6-2) travels north for back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday against No. 14 Notre Dame (3-4) in South Bend, Ind. in a possible Big East championship preview and the No. 47 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) in Columbus.
Sunday’s series against the Buckeyes will mark the emotional return of Ally Mueller to Columbus. Mueller transferred to USF from Ohio State in the fall.
“I look forward to seeing every one of my former teammates again, but at the same time I really want to win,” Mueller said.
Mueller believes USF has to have a strong mentality to overcome the northern weather and the indoor setting in which it will play both matches.
“We need to win both matches,” Muller said. “I think (USF) is stronger than both Ohio State and Notre Dame, but we can’t underestimate them.”
The Irish and Bulls will face each other for the third time. USF leads the all-time series 2-1.
The last meeting came a year ago when the Bulls defeated the Irish 4-3 in the Big East final. The previous meeting, in 2006, marked the first time they faced each other in the Big East final, and the Irish defeated the Bulls 4-1.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are coming off a solid 5-2 victory against the Virginia Tech Hokies Sunday.
“(Notre Dame and Ohio State) are both great schools that are recognized around the country for their athletic success,” USF coach Agustin Moreno said. “Notre Dame is our toughest opponent in the Big East, and Ohio State has improved a lot in the past year. This road trip will be a good experience for us.”
USF was deterred by the flu and massive rain this month, which resulted in match cancellations against the University of Florida and an unforeseen but welcome 20-day layoff.
With fresh legs and a tough road test ahead, it’s time for USF to see how it matches up against the biggest obstacle on the road to a Big East title and one of the powers of the Big Ten.