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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish take down OSU to even their record

Lorenzo Reyes | Friday, February 15, 2008

After participating in three matches in as many days at the ITA National Team Indoors, No. 14 Notre Dame has a lot on its plate this weekend as the pace of this season begins to pick up.

The Irish started their three-game weekend home stand with a 5-2 victory over No. 47 Ohio State on Thursday bringing their record up to an even 4-4 this season.

Irish coach Jay Louderback commented on the overall fatigue of his squad heading into the match.

“Maybe they were a little tired,” Louderback said. “This is the part of the season when we start to play a lot of matches grouped together. We have three this week and three the next. After the ITA [National Team Indoors], we went a little shorter in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. One thing we really wanted to focus on was our doubles play over practice.”

The extra work paid off. Notre Dame secured the first two doubles matches against the Buckeyes to take the 1-0 lead.

The national No. 3 tandem of senior Brook Buck and junior Kelcy Tefft took the first match 8-2 over Buckeyes junior Angela DiPastina and sophomore Christina Keesey.

Sophomore duo Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley ensured the Irish would start the match 1-0 with their 8-3 ousting of freshman Paloma Escobedo and senior Caitlin O’Keefe. Sophomore Kali Krisik and freshman Kristen Rafael completed the doubles sweep with an 8-6 win over Julie Blackmore and Cami Hubbs.

“It was exciting to see our doubles play well,” Louderback said. “We won all three and it signaled a great start to the weekend.”

The Irish carried the momentum from their doubles win into singles play.

“It definitely set the tempo for the rest of the afternoon,” he said. “We’ve started our last three or four down 1-0, and our players got tired of it. It’s always tougher to play from behind, and I’m really excited we won all three.”

Keeping the momentum rolling, the Irish won the first three singles matches, claiming the victory in convincing fashion.

Krisik took O’Keefe in two quick sets 6-1, 6-3 followed by junior Katie Potts’ 6-1, 6-1 victory from the No. 5 spot over Hubbs.

Tefft played from the No. 1 spot for the first time all season and didn’t cave under the pressure. Tefft’s 6-4, 6-2 win over DiPastina clinched the win over the Buckeyes with the 4-0 lead. The junior improved her dual action record this season to an unbeaten mark of 8-0.

Ohio State gained its first point once Buck came to face Escobedo. However, it was not the senior’s play that gave the point away, but a rolled ankle instead. Buck was in position to take the match until she was forced to retire because of the injury.

Notre Dame went on to pick up one more point as Ciobanu took care of Keesey in three sets for the 6-0, 3-6, 6-2 win.

The Irish won’t have time to rest as Wisconsin comes to town for a 3 p.m. match at the Eck Tennis Pavilion today. The squad will get one day’s rest before they continue their home stand against South Florida at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Knowing that his squad would face several tiring stretches throughout the season, Louderback focused on conditioning in the fall.

“We worked real hard on conditioning last fall,” he said. “Now we’ll see how we did and it pays off.”

With the injured ankle, Buck will sit today’s action, but may be back for South Florida, depending on her progress. Louderback had already been prepared to sit one of his players because of an NCAA violation that will force Buck, Ciobanu and Tefft each to sit one team dual match.

“The players are scheduled to play in 25 matches in a season,” Louderback said. “So we’ll schedule 25 total matches in the season to cover those. Sometimes though, when our players qualify for the ITA Championships, they’ll go over the 25 mark. With Brook [Buck] hurt now we can let her rest her ankle and get one of those suspensions out of the way.”