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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish extend win streak to six

Lorenzo Reyes | Monday, March 31, 2008

For No. 19 Notre Dame, March was an excellent month.

The third month of the dual match season saw the Irish extend their season-long win streak extended to six at the Eck Tennis Pavilion against in-state rival No. 25 Indiana 6-1.

Things looked bleak for the Irish early on, with all the Hoosiers doubles pairs getting off to an early lead. The Irish made some mid-match adjustments, however, and eventually won the doubles point.

“Indiana played well early on in the doubles portion,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “They came out more aggressive than we though they’d be, and they got off to an early lead. They usually hang back and volley a bit more than they did [Sunday]. Our kids hung in there, though and we made some changes and played more aggressive.”

Part of the credit in the doubles come back goes to the No. 1 duo in the nation of senior Brook Buck and junior Kelcy Tefft, who bounced back after some early struggles against Hoosier senior Brianna Williams and freshman Katya Zapadalova to win 8-4.

The tandem dropped three of the first four games of the match, but rallied to grab six straight, helping them claim the win and improve their record to 27-5. Louderback could tell that his top doubles team needed to rebound after losing its first match as the nation’s top pair to SMU last week.

“They started a little slow,” Louderback said. “The Indiana pair played well against them early on, but Brook and Kelcy got more aggressive as the match developed. They needed a ‘W’ after last week, so they took care of business.”

In another tight battle, the sophomore tag team of Colleen Rielley and Cosmina Ciobanu secured the doubles point with a hard-fought victory over Indiana junior Alba Berdala and sophomore Lindsey Stuckey, 8-6. The Irish team seemed to be controlling the match at 5-2, but dropped the next three games, allowing the Hoosiers to tie.

With a 7-6 lead, Rielley and Ciobanu only allowed one point in the game to propel Notre Dame to a 1-0 lead. The pair now is 13-1 on the dual match season, claiming the squad’s best winning percentage.

Stepping in for injured freshman Kristen Rafael, junior Katie Potts and sophomore Kali Krisik couldn’t combine for a win. The duo fell 8-7 to junior Sigrid Fischer and freshman Myriam Sopel, giving the Irish pair their second loss in three matches as a doubles team.

With Notre Dame up 1-0 in the match, the momentum from the doubles point carried over to singles play, with the Irish taking five of the six matches, including four in straight sets.

Ciobanu looked focused in her match against Fischer, ousting her 6-1, 6-1 in convincing fashion. The sophomore improved to 19-15 overall and 8-11 in dual match play.

Indiana scored its only point of the day, cutting the Irish lead to 2-1 with Stuckey’s defeat of Rielley 6-4, 6-2.

Buck extended her winning streak to six matches with her dominant 6-1, 6-1 win over freshman Charlotte Martin. Her doubles partner, Tefft, looked just as solid, and clinched the Irish victory at 4-1 with her win over Berdala 6-3, 6-0.

With the win already in hand, Notre Dame still didn’t let up. Krisik improved on her team-best singles record, winning 6-3, 6-4 over Williams. The sophomore’s mark is now an impressive 25-6, and has taken eight of her past 10 matches.

Potts finished off the Hoosiers with a 6-4, 0-6, 1-0 (10-4) win over Sopel. Potts dropped six games in a row before regaining her composure and claiming the victory in the tiebreak. Notre Dame is clicking on all cylinders and Louderback said the increased quality of performance is due to the right chemistry and pairings in the lineup.

“We are playing better,” Louderback said. “We just have our lineup where it sets the kids who are playing in the right position to win, and it’s making all the difference.”

Notre Dame will put its six-game win streak on the line in West Lafayette when it faces Purdue Wednesday, followed by a contest at Iowa Friday.