ND Women’s Tennis: ND opens season vs. OSU
Michael Bryan | Friday, January 23, 2009
The No. 17 Irish will begin their spring season this weekend, opening at No. 32 Ohio State. Notre Dame, led by the No. 1 ranked doubles team of senior Kelcy Tefft and freshman Kristy Frilling, is looking to defend its Big East title and return to the NCAA Tournament.
The Irish will square off in Columbus following a strong 2007-08 campaign that featured a Big East Championship and ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame’s final record was 22-9.
“I would say this is the most talented team I’ve coached here,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “We have a lot of firepower, some great doubles teams, and really want to set ourselves up to make a good run at the end of the year.”
Ohio State is ranked fourth in the preseason Big Ten rankings, and the Buckeyes national ranking is their highest since 2001. Ohio State is led by junior Kirsten Flower, a transfer from Georgia Tech, who is ranked 14th in the Midwest region in the preseason ITA rankings.
“It’s going to be a very good first match for us,” Louderback said. “It should be very competitive – they’re a team a lot like us, with a lot of depth and good doubles teams.”
Frilling and Tefft, who went 10-1 as a doubles team in the fall season, begin the season ranked first nationally after advancing to the finals of the ITA National Indoor Championships in October.
While Tefft played the most matches and gained the highest ranking with Frilling, the senior also played enough matches with junior Kali Krisik to rank third nationally.
In addition to the top doubles teams, the Irish have four players ranked in the top-65 in singles, and seven in the regional top-20. Frilling is ranked 39th in the national preseason singles rankings, and Tefft is 45th. Rounding out the group for Notre Dame is junior Kali Krisik at 46th, and sophomore Kristen Rafael at 62nd.
Louderback praised the team’s off-season training and was impressed with their work ethic.
“I think it has been the toughest conditioning we’ve ever had, and they’ve responded well,” Louderback said. “I think it has helped with our speed, and we’re covering the court a lot better as a result.”
Northwestern led the preseason rankings, followed by California and UCLA. Baylor and Stanford also were in the top-five.
Notre Dame opens at home February 6 against Michigan.