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ND Women’s Tennis: Team travels to Texas in search of road wins

Joe Meixell | Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Irish leave their home court for a two-match road trip to Texas, starting Saturday in College Station, Tex., against the Texas A&M Aggies.

The No. 27 Aggies (8-4) enter the match on a two-game win streak, having mowed down Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in convincing fashion last week.

The Aggies dropped just one match point over the two meetings, but like the No. 24 Irish, Texas A&M has been dominating inferior competition of late.

The three-game win streak Notre Dame (10-7) brings to the match comes from victories against teams boasting solid programs but not top-50 rankings.

Texas A&M poses the toughest test for the Irish since their March 1 5-2 loss to Georgia Tech, the nation’s current No. 2 team.

The Aggies’ attack is led by Elze Potgieter, ranked as the No. 76 singles player in the country. The sophomore from South Africa does not have an impressive record but faced six straight ranked opponents to start the season.

She went 2-4 over the stretch highlighted by a win over then-No. 11 Melanie Gloria of Fresno State.

Though the Aggies have no other ranked single players or any ranked doubles pairs, they hold the home-court advantage and have lost just once in four home matches for the dual season.

Notre Dame’s streak has been a result of solid team play up and down the lineup, and the impressive play by the Irish is being nationally recognized.

Senior Brook Buck and junior Kelcy Tefft remained in the top spot of the national doubles rankings this week while the sophomore combo of Colleen Rielley and Cosmina Ciobanu entered the poll at No. 50.

Rielley and Ciobanu are an impressive 11-1 for the dual season as a doubles pair and have won four consecutive matches.

On the singles side, Tefft moved up one spot to No. 38, and sophomore Kali Krisik remained in the rankings at No. 114. Ciobanu joined Tefft and Krisik in the rankings this week at No. 105 to give the strong Notre Dame singles attack three nationally ranked players.

Going on the road against a ranked opponent gives the Irish a chance to improve on some apparent weaknesses with respect to their performance so far.

Though three games over .500 for the dual season, the Irish are sub-.500 on the road at just 3-4. Some of the struggles can be attributed to their 1-3 record on a three-game road-trip to start the year against all ranked opponents, but the trip to College Station offers a chance for the Irish to even their road record.

As the NCAA Tournament inches onto the horizon, the Irish will have to start playing better against their tougher competition. Though they beat teams like Hawaii and Western Michigan the way they should have, the Irish are just 2-6 against nationally ranked teams thus far.

Notre Dame looks to improve upon that this Saturday. First serve is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Mitchell Tennis Center.