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Women’s Tennis: Makeshift squad still wins

Chris Hine | Monday, April 2, 2007

Despite injuries to multiple key players, No. 2 Notre Dame extended its win streak in dual match play to 13 with a 5-2 indoor victory over No. 28 Wichita St. Friday and a 5-2 outdoor win over No. 38 Tulsa Sunday.

The Irish (18-1) played without junior Brook Buck and freshman Colleen Rielley for the second straight week, forcing Irish coach Jay Louderback to move players around in both singles and doubles play. But even those that did play in the two matches this weekend were not completely healthy, Louderback said.

“We have a few of them that are struggling with shoulders that have been playing a lot. We go inside and then we get outside a few days,” he said. “For us, I think health-wise we need to get where we can consistently get outside and get used to it. It’s a tougher game outside when the wind’s blowing – it’s like you’re hitting a ball that’s heavier. It’s a little more wear on the body.”

In doubles play, the nationally ranked No. 4 team of seniors Catrina and Christian Thompson won both of their matches this weekend, but at the No. 2 and 3 slots, Louderback deployed two teams that have yet to compete together in dual match play – freshman Kali Krisik with sophomore Kelcy Tefft, and freshman Cosmina Ciobanu with sophomore Katie Potts.

“It was really good with our depth,” Louderback said. “I thought all three doubles teams – that was the big thing – we had two new doubles teams in both matches… It was good to see the two new doubles teams, the combinations, seeing them play well.”

The two new teams failed to miss a beat, winning all of their matches and giving the Irish the doubles point in both matches.

Potts, who played with an injured shoulder, and Krisik replaced Rielley and Buck in singles play. Potts went 0-2 from the No. 5 slot, falling to Wichita State’s Anna Egorova 6-3, 7-5 Friday and Tulsa’s Agostino Santoro 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 Sunday. Krisik won both of her matches in straight sets from the No. 6 slot.

“Katie had a couple of tough matches, lost both of hers. Kali did a good job,” Louderback said.

Rielley normally occupies the No. 3 slot. This meant that No. 62 Ciobanu and Tefft each had to move up a spot in the lineup and battle tougher competition than they would normally face.

Both stepped up to the challenge. Ciobanu and Tefft won all of their matches and played a pivotal part in Notre Dame’s success this weekend by grabbing two points in each match. Ciobanu is now 19-0 in dual match play, while Tefft improved to 13-3 this season.

“Those two just win. They both compete well. They just win, that’s all you can say. [Tefft] gets a lot of balls,” Louderback said. “She doesn’t overpower you, but she makes you play a lot of balls. Her forehand, she doesn’t hit really hard, she’ll slice it some. But she has a big backhand. It’s hard to get into a rhythm against her.

“[Ciobanu] is solid off the ground, both forehand and background, and if you give her anything loose at all she’ll step in and hit it. She can hit winners, and just plays a smart game and is good at finishing off points.”

No. 19 Catrina Thompson dropped her match from the No. 1 slot against Wichita State’s Madina Rakhim, 7-6, 6-3 Friday, but bounced back Sunday to defeat Tulsa’s Kindsay Grimes 6-2, 6-2. “[Rakhim] is really good. She hadn’t played any ranked kids, so she didn’t have the points to be up there. She’s one of the top 20 kids in the country, I think [from] watching her play, because Catrina played well.”

Christian Thompson also went 1-1 over the weekend. On Friday, Thompson defeated Wichita State’s Florentina Hanisch 6-1, 6-0 but lost to Tulsa’s Santie Delport 6-2, 6-1 Sunday.

Notre Dame faces Purdue Tuesday. Louderback said he is not sure if Buck and Rielley will play against the Boilermakers.

“We’ll know [today],” he said.