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ND?Women’s Tennis: Squad completes two-game sweep over BYU, Utes

Alex Barker | Monday, February 23, 2009

The Irish completed a sweep of their two-game road trip with convincing victories over Brigham Young and Utah this weekend in Provo, Utah.

In its first test since rising to the No. 5 spot in the national rankings, Notre Dame easily handled BYU 6-1 on Saturday afternoon behind solid doubles play and a dominating singles performance.

“The team is just beginning to gel,” freshman Shannon Mathews said. “While the team is extremely pleased with our success this season, we recognize that we need to work even harder to reach the summit.”

The No. 2 ranked doubles squad of senior Kelcy Tefft and junior Kali Krisik clinched the doubles point for the Irish with an 8-3 victory in the No. 1 singles match after Mathews and junior Colleen Rielley had struck first with their 8-3 victory in the No. 3 match.

In singles play, the Irish got more of the same outstanding play that had first earned them their top-five ranking.

Freshman Kristy Frilling downed her opponent 6-4, 6-3 in the No. 2 singles match to give the Irish a commanding 2-0 lead. After sophomore Kristen Rafael put Notre Dame up 3-0 with a close 7-5, 6-4 victory, Krisik delivered the final blow with a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 comeback victory to give the Irish the decisive fourth point.

Both Mathews and junior Cosmina Ciobanu won their matches in the No. 6 and No. 5 singles spots, respectively.

A great deal of the Irish’s success thus far can be attributed to their coaches’ refusal to allow the team to dwell on its previous achievements.

“As coach Louderback and coach Scaringe remind us daily, each of us has room for improvement,” Mathews said. “Nobody can rest on laurels, not if we want to be the best.”

On Sunday, the Irish coasted to an easy 7-0 win over the Utes. This was Notre Dame’s second flawless victory in its last three matches, the first having come earlier in the week against Purdue.

The Irish once again received outstanding doubles play from the squads of Tefft/Krisik and Rielley/Mathews who each garnered 8-2 victories to clinch the doubles point.

Singles play offered more of the same dominance from the Irish.

Rafael gave Notre Dame its second point of the match with a 6-1, 6-1 victory in the No. 3 match. Mathews and Ciobanu knocked off their respective opponents 6-2, 6-0 to put the team ahead 4-0 and seal a third straight victory for the Irish.

Mathews’ victory keeps her undefeated this season with a record of 8-0, though she is quick to yield to her older teammates when it comes to allotting credit for the early season success.

“What has been very exciting about the team thus far is that every team member has made contributions towards our success,” she said. “But, our upperclassmen continue to remind us that we have to bring our best efforts every match.”

In the only tightly contested match of the day, Frilling edged her opponent 6-7 (7-1), 6-3, 10-5 in the No. 2 match.

The win moves the Irish to 9-1 overall, with the only loss coming against top-ranked Northwestern.

“It is such a great honor and privilege to represent the team and to continue the Notre Dame tradition of excellence in athletics,” Mathews said. “I am fortunate to play with a group of young women who are all focused on improving and giving our best every time we step on the court.”

The Irish will host North Carolina in the first match of a three-game home stand Friday at 3 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.