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ND Women’s Tennis: Team downs Demons, Eagles

Dan Masterton and Lorenzo Reyes | Monday, April 14, 2008

If there’s an ideal way that a team wants to head into its conference tournament, No. 16 Notre Dame is following the right formula. After dropping a tight match to top-ranked Northwestern last week – their first loss in nine matches – the Irish regained their momentum and swept a pair of Big East rivals in DePaul and Marquette.

Notre Dame 7, DePaul 0

Notre Dame (18-7) continued to dominate conference opponents, improving to 4-0 in Big East play and handing DePaul (16-5) its first conference loss.

Notre Dame sophomores Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley were the first ones off the court in doubles play, but for just the second time of the dual season, the sophomore pair was on the losing side.

DePaul’s No. 2 pair, junior Dunja Antunovic and sophomore Kirsten Gambrell took the match 8-3. The Blue Demon pair improved to 12-1 on the season, but that was the lone bright spot for DePaul.

Irish sophomore Kali Krisik and freshman Kristen Rafael stole the momentum back for Notre Dame. Their 8-2 win evened doubles play and left the showdown between each team’s No. 1 duo to decide the point.

As usual, the No. 1 pair in the country, senior Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft, delivered a victory. Their 8-4 win over senior Beatrix Csordas and freshman Selma Salkovic gave the doubles point to the Irish for the eleventh straight match.

The Irish carried that momentum to a convincing sweep of all the singles matches, dropping just one set along the way.

No. 122 Ciobanu downed Salkovic 6-3, 6-0 to open singles play. After junior Katie Potts took care of Gambrell 6-2, 6-1, No. 42 Tefft won the match for Notre Dame with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Antunovic.

Buck was next off the court. Her 6-2, 6-2 win over senior Gergana Ganeva was the eighth time Buck has won in her last nine completed matches.

Rielley followed with a triumph over freshman Katarina Milinkovic 6-3, 6-3. Since losing in straight sets at North Carolina, Rielley is 8-3, including a win over Georgia Tech’s No. 76 Christy Striplin.

Krisik wrapped up the sweep with a three-set win over Csordas, 1-6, 6-3, 10-5.

Including the contest with DePaul, the Irish have dropped just 12 points in their last 11 matches. They are 10-1 over that stretch.

Notre Dame 7, Marquette 0

The Irish closed out the regular season with a 7-0 sweep of the Golden Eagles, heading into the Big East tournament having won 11 of their past 12 matches.

Typical of its play all season, Notre Dame controlled the doubles point, as they took the important opening score over Marquette, marking the 11th straight time it had done so.

Buck and Tefft continued their impressive play, shutting out the Marquette pair of senior Shannon Brown and junior Lauren Little. The top-ranked duo improved to 32-5 on the season with its dominating performance.

Rielley and Ciobanu bounced back from their defeat against the Blue Demons, winning 8-3 over senior Maria Calbeto and freshman Christina Ruiz.

Krisik and Rafael took care of senior Erin Watkins and freshman Rachel Hush, 8-4 to improve to 8-6 overall in the season.

More importantly, the Irish started off the contest ahead 1-0 and continued their solid play in singles competition

Tefft displayed dominance in her straight set 6-0, 6-0 win over Watkins, improving to 20-5 in dual match play.

Things looked to be clicking for the Irish, and Ciobanu kept the Golden Eagles at bay with her 6-1, 6-1 straight set victory over Ruiz. With Notre Dame holding a 3-0 lead, Marquette couldn’t muster any substantial answer for the Irish play.

Buck closed out her regular-season career at Notre Dame with a 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Calbeto, winning her eighth singles match in nine tries. The straight set win clinched the match for the Irish who won their eighteenth match of the season.

Rielley ousted Hush 7-5, 6-3 at the No. 4 spot, while Krisik upended junior Robin Metzler in the penultimate match, 6-0, 6-2. The sophomore clinched her team-high 31st singles win with the match.

Potts completed the Irish sweep with a quick 6-0, 6-0 victory over sophomore Maggie Wilson, improving her mark to 20-9 on the season.

Notre Dame returns to action in the Big East tournament beginning Apr. 18 in Tampa, Fla. With the Irish ranked highest of all conference teams, and boasting an undefeated league record, the squad will most likely take the top seed in the tournament and face the winner of Thursday’s match between the eight- and nine- seeds.