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ND Women’s Tennis: No. 2 Notre Dame falls short in top-10 battle

Joe Meixell | Monday, April 16, 2007

Irish freshman Cosmina Ciobanu woke up Friday morning with the flu.

As a result, she could not play in No. 2 Notre Dame’s match against No. 9 Northwestern.

Without Ciobanu, who holds a 22-0 dual match record, and junior Brook Buck, who has been sidelined the last month with an injury, the Irish fell to the Wildcats 5-2 Friday.

“We still had some other chances. We had chance to win some other matches, but we played OK,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said.

Notre Dame won its other two weekend matches against DePaul and Marquette 7-0 to close out the regular season, but its 16-match winning streak ended at the hands of Northwestern.

The defeat was the first for the No. 2 Irish (23-2) since their 4-2 loss to No. 4 Georgia Tech in the finals of the ITA National Indoor Tournament Feb. 4.

The Irish previously defeated the No. 9 Wildcats 4-3 in the semifinals of the National Indoor Feb. 3.

“I’m sure they were probably really fired up when they saw that [Buck and Ciobanu] weren’t going to play. I’m sure that made them even more fired up,” Louderback said. “But they just played well. The top of their singles played very, very, well [this time].”

One of the keys to Notre Dame’s victory in February was its ability to get the doubles point and take an early 1-0 lead. But this time, the Wildcats pounced out of the gate.

The No. 13 nationally-ranked tandem of Georgia Rose and Alexis Prousis soundly defeated Notre Dame’s No. 8 duo of seniors Christian and Catrina Thompson 8-1.

“Yeah, they got killed. They just didn’t play well. It was pretty ugly,” Louderback said. “We were down 4-0 in a short amount of time, and it didn’t get any better.”

Both Buck and Ciobanu were in the doubles lineup against Northwestern back in February, but today the Irish sent out a revised lineup at No. 2 and No. 3.

Sophomore Kelcy Tefft and freshman Kali Krisik grabbed the No. 2 doubles match for Notre Dame with an 8-6 win over Lauren Lui and Keri Robinson, but Samantha Murray and Alexis Conill clinched the doubles point for the Wildcats by defeating Irish freshman Colleen Rielley and sophomore Katie Potts 8-4.

“At No. 3 doubles, that made a big difference,” Louderback said.

The Thompsons’ struggles carried over into singles play. At, No 1 singles, No. 11 Rose managed to get a key break against No. 26 with the score tied 3-3 in the first set. Rose then cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory. No. 29 Murray made quick work of Christian Thompson at No. 2 with a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

No. 113 Lui clinched the match for Northwestern with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Tefft. Nazlie Ghazal made it 5-0 Northwestern by defeating Krisik 6-4, 6-2.

The Irish then staved off a sweep with a pair of three-set tiebreaking wins. Rielley picked up a 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 1-0 (11-9) win over Alexis Prousis and Potts downed Robinson 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-7).

Louderback rested Catrina Thompson against DePaul Saturday because she had to sit out one more match this season in order to play in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments, and the Blue Demons only carried five singles players. This meant DePaul forfeited at No. 6.

“They’re No. 1 and 3 players are out. Tore their ACLs early in the year,” Louderback said. “I felt bad for them. They’re struggling, but they beat Marquette the day before, so they’re capable of being a good team.”

Ciobanu returned to the court Sunday against Marquette and competed with Rielley in No. 2 doubles, winning 8-1 over Francina Bonnelly and Margaret Wilson.

In their matches against both Marquette and DePaul, the Irish did not lose a set in singles or double play.

The two matches also marked the dual match debut of junior Bailey Louderback, daughter of coach Jay Louderback. Bailey won at No. 3 doubles in both matches with Christian Thompson Saturday and Krisik Sunday.

“She played really well [Saturday] in the doubles. So, it was fun to see her get her first two doubles matches in,” Louderback said.

With dual match play over, the Irish will play in the Big East tournament beginning Friday. Louderback said he hopes his team will be fully recovered by then.

“We’re trying to get as healthy as we can for that match on Friday,” Louderback said. “We don’t play until Friday. We can only turn in eight players for our roster so the eight healthiest kids we got will be on the roster.”