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ND WOMEN”S TENNIS: Freshman secures Irish win at home

Chris Hine | Thursday, February 15, 2007

Notre Dame captured the first of three matches against top-25 opponents this week with a 6-1 win Wednesday over No. 23 Michigan at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. “We played well. All three doubles teams played really well,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “We lost one match, but I felt like they played well because Michigan had won at least four singles matches in each of their matches this season.”Freshman Cosmina Ciobanu’s 6-0, 6-3 defeat of Wolverines senior Elizabeth Exon gave No. 2 Notre Dame its fourth point and the victory. The win lifts Ciobanu’s dual match record to 8-0 and 18-4 overall.”The first set especially, she played really well,” Louderback said. “[Exon] has played as high as [the No. 1 singles slot] for them.”After getting her third straight 6-0 set victory, Ciobanu dropped two of the first three games in the second set, but fought back to win four of the next five.”If you win the first set 6-0 but finally lose a game or two in the second set, you start thinking ‘Oh, no, this kid’s coming back on me,'” Louderback said. “But down 2-1, she cruised from there.”The Irish began the match by sweeping all three doubles matches to take a 1-0 lead. Junior Brook Buck then made quick work of Michigan freshman Tania Mahtani, 6-0, 6-1 to give the Irish a 2-0 lead.”She didn’t play our last few matches,” Louderback said. “But every match she’s played she’s gotten better.”Freshman Colleen Rielley could not break out of her slump against Michigan, dropping her fourth straight match against Wolverine sophomore Chisako Sugiyama, 6-4, 6-3.”[Rielley] still had a tight match,” Louderback said. “Sugiyama is tough, especially indoors. She plays a big game and hits the ball hard. She’s a tough kid.”Sugiyama’s win pulled Michigan within 2-1, but the final four matches belonged to the Irish. At No. 1 singles, senior Catrina Thompson overcame losing the first three games of the match to capture a 6-3, 6-1 win over Michigan fifth-year senior Jenny Kuehn.”She takes a little while to get going. She’ll do that occasionally where she starts off slow the first two, three games, and then her serve picks up and her forehand starts going and she gets on a roll,” Louderback said. “Her serve and forehead are really big. She gets a lot of free points because of those. It’s hard for kids to return them.”After Ciobanu’s win clinched the match, senior Christian Thompson overcame a first-set loss to defeat Michigan senior Kara Delicata 5-7, 6-2, 1-0 (10-6) while sophomore Katie Potts completed the match with a 6-1, 7-6 (1) win over Wolverine junior Allie Shafner.”It was good to win the last two,” Louderback said. “They were tight matches but they made it 6-1 which was nice.”The Irish will have little time to rest before hosting No. 7 North Carolina Friday and No. 20 Wake Forest Saturday.”First, we just have to beat North Carolina, but [winning both matches] would be big for us just because we’ve played such a tough schedule, and we’ve come through a lot of big matches now,” Louderback said. “A sweep would be very good for us at this point.”