ND Women’s Tennis: Irish sweep Rutgers, DePaul
Lorenzo Reyes | Monday, April 21, 2008
Building on its late season momentum, No. 17 Notre Dame returned to the top of its conference, winning the Big East Championship with three impressive victories. With wins over Rutgers, DePaul and South Florida, the Irish won the league title for the third time in four years. After shutting out both the Scarlet Knights and the Blue Demons, the tournament culminated in a 4-1 victory over the Bulls, avenging last year’s defeat in the title match.
Notre Dame 4, Rutgers 0
As the Irish entered the tournament with a top seed, they faced Rutgers on Friday who came in as an eighth-seeded long shot. For the 14th time in a row, Notre Dame won the doubles point to get the match started, and used the momentum to handle the Scarlet Knights in singles play as well.
The No. 1 tandem in the nation of senior Brook Buck and junior Kelcy Tefft continued their dominance, picking up a commanding 8-0 win over senior Katrina Elder-Bush and sophomore Katherine Arlak. The win was their second “bagel” in as many matches, and improved their record to 35-5 on the season.
Sophomore pair Colleen Rielley and Cosmina Ciobanu led their opponents 7-6 before the point was decided thanks to sophomore Kali Krisik and freshman Kristen Rafael’s 8-5 win over sophomore Caitlin Baker and freshman Amy Zhang.
Tefft continued her impressive streak in singles play picking up right where she left off, backing up her doubles bagel with a singles bagel as well. The 6-0, 6-0 win over Elder-Bush marked her 25th win of the year and put the Irish up 2-0.
Buck followed suit and gave the Irish a three-point advantage with her solid 6-0, 6-1 ousting of Zhang at the No. 2 slot for her fifth win in a row and ninth out of 10.
Notre Dame clinched the match with Rielley’s 6-0, 6-2 win over Baker putting the score at 4-0, and giving the Irish the nod and a chance at a semifinal match with DePaul who had beaten Marquette in its quarterfinal match.
Notre Dame 5, DePaul 0
The Irish eventually earned a place in their 13th straight Big East final with their second straight shutout Saturday. Notre Dame stuck to its guns and clinched the doubles point, which then translated into singles success.
Buck and Tefft earned their third straight shutout in doubles play, this time over senior Beatrix Csordas and freshman Selma Salkovic. With the win, Buck and Tefft matched the number of wins they had last season with 34.
Rielley and Ciobanu got their revenge from junior Dunja Antunovic and sophomore Kirsten Gambrell, who had beaten the Irish pair earlier in the month, with a convincing 8-1 win, sealing the doubles point for Notre Dame.
Ciobanu took care of Salkovic in singles play, putting the match at 2-0 for the Irish with her 6-0, 6-2 victory earning her 26th win of the season.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 3-0 lead as Krisik ousted Gambrell, 6-2, 6-1. The win marked the first singles victory of the tournament and team-high 32nd of the year.
Junior Katie Potts won for the eighth time in nine matches with her streaight set 6-3, 6-2 win over senior Anja Mihaldinec, putting the score at 4-0.
Buck clinched the match for the Irish with her 6-4, 6-2 besting of Gergana Ganeva giving the senior captain 12 wins in 13 tries. Next, the Bulls loomed in the path of the Irish as the championship game would be decided Sunday.
Notre Dame 4, South Florida 1
The Irish took the title, taking down the hosting Bulls, placing themselves in their 13th straight NCAA tournament, giving Notre Dame 14 wins in 15 attempts.
For the 15th straight time, the Irish captured the doubles point, once again led by the nation’s top tandem.
Buck and Tefft claimed an 8-5 win over junior Iciri Rai and freshman Janeette Bajikova. Buck have won 19 of their last 20, and the next doubles victory they take will put them in a tie for the program’s top doubles mark.
Rielley and Ciobanu clinched the point for the Irish with their 8-2 victory over sophomore pair Jessica Zok and Lauren Schumate. The pair’s 20th win put the match at 1-0, and began singles play.
Buck started off the singles victories with her straight-set 6-2, 6-2 win over Zok. The senior now has won seven straight and 13 of 14.
With the match at 2-0, Ciobanu put the Irish up three with her 6-2, 6-4 victory over sophomore Allyn Mueller.
Bulls freshman Natalia Guevara put South Florida on the board with her 6-3, 6-2 win over Potts, but the Irish bounced back with Rielley’s 22nd win of the season and the match-clinching win. The sophomore took the contest 6-3, 6-4 over senior Liz Cruz.
Notre Dame has now won two of three Big East title matches over the Bulls, and now must wait until May 9 for the NCAA tournament to begin. The Irish could be a host team depending on the pairings which will be decided in early May.