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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish earn two-game sweep

Lorenzo Reyes and Dan Masterton | Monday, February 18, 2008

For now, at least, No. 14 Notre Dame is back on track.

After struggling to a pair of losses last week, the Irish swept Wisconsin and No. 31 South Florida at home this weekend. With the defeat of its Big East rival, Notre Dame (6-4) is now riding a three-game winning streak.

Irish head coach Jay Louderback thinks his team is swinging on all cylinders.

“I feel like we’ve gotten better every match,” he said. “We’ve become tougher and tougher as the matches go on. We played some solid competition this weekend and we’re looking to build on our momentum.”

Notre Dame 7, Wisconsin 0

Despite playing without senior captain Brook Buck, the Irish cruised to victory Friday, sweeping No. 74 Wisconsin, 7-0.

With Buck injured, the Irish lineup shifted around and offered opportunities for the players to contribute in different slots.

Sophomore Kali Krisik moved up to No. 1 doubles with junior Kelcy Tefft, and the pair started the Irish dominance with an 8-3 victory. Sophomore pair Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley moved up to No. 2 doubles and secured the doubles point with a swift 8-2 win.

The Notre Dame singles attack won each match handily. Despite the lineup changes, the Irish won all six matches in straight sets with no Wisconsin player winning more than three games in a set.

Junior Katie Potts started singles play with a 6-2, 6-0 victory, and Ciobanu and Rielley followed suit with convincing wins to clinch the match for Notre Dame.

Having won the match, there was no pressure as freshman Kristin Rafael, who primarily plays No. 2 or 3 doubles, made her singles debut in the No. 6 slot. Rafael took advantage of the opportunity and easily disposed of her opponent 6-1, 6-2.

The second half of singles play also included wins from Krisik and Tefft.

Tefft played No. 1 singles for the second straight day and is now 2-0 from that slot for the dual season and a perfect 9-0 in singles overall. Her 6-3, 6-0 win finished the 7-0 sweep for the Irish, and five loyal fans celebrated the win for Tefft and the Irish with traditional student section push-ups.

It was Notre Dame’s second straight 7-0 victory over Wisconsin. The Irish improved to 3-0 at home and broke the .500 mark for the first time since a season-opening win over Louisville.

Notre Dame 6, South Florida 1

Looking to complete the weekend sweep, the only thing left for the Irish to take care of was South Florida.

With a victory against the Bulls, the Irish remained undefeated in Big East play, and improved their overall record to 6-4.

Louderback said doubles play was key in the victory.

“We’re feeling really good about our doubles play,” Louderback said. “We played really well. We won all but one match all weekend. I’m especially impressed with our No. 2 and 3 spots really stepped it up. Brook and Kelcy have been playing well all year, so it was good to see our other pairs playing well.”

Buck returned to action and paired up with Tefft to comprise the No. 3 team in the nation, defeating sophomore pair Allyn Mueller and Jessica Zok 8-0.

Krisik and Rafael sealed the doubles point with an 8-2 win over Janette Bejkova and Natalia Guevara.

“I’m impressed with the play of our freshman, Kristen Rafael,” Louderback said. “She played real well all weekend. I think she gained a little confidence winning her singles match against Wisconsin, and that carried over into the rest of the week.”

Ciobanu and Rielley upended junior Icri Rai and senior Liz Cruz 8-5 in the final doubles match.

No. 62 Ciobanu beat Mueller 6-1, 6-2, and No. 64 Buck dropped the first two games of the first set but turned her play around against Zok for a 6-2, 6-0 victory.

No. 82 Potts secured the third win of the weekend with her 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Rai.

Notre Dame will travel to Durham, N.C. to face a surging Duke team Thursday. The Blue Devils topped No. 6 Florida earlier in the week, and Louderback is not taking them lightly.

“Duke is going to be a tough, tough matchup,” he said. “… They’re really under ranked. With their talent, they are definitely a top five team, so we have a tough test ahead of ourselves.”