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Women’s Tennis: ND topples two top-5 teams, falls to No. 1 Northwestern

Douglas Farmer | Monday, February 16, 2009

In the span of three days this weekend, No. 14 Notre Dame played three of the top five teams in the country.

The Irish defeated No. 5 Stanford in the first round of the ITA Indoor National Championships on Friday, and then proceeded to knock off No. 4 Baylor in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Awaiting the Irish on Sunday was top-ranked Northwestern in the semifinals, and that is where the Notre Dame run came to an end.

On Friday, Notre Dame lost the doubles point, and before long, the team was down 3-1, facing elimination at any point. Fortunately, the second half of the team’s singles players rose to the challenge, bringing the Irish back from behind to a 4-3 victory.

“It was pretty exciting for all of us,” senior Kelcy Tefft said. “Notre Dame has never beaten Stanford, so it was a very good time for that first.”

The Irish could not rejoice in the upset for long, as No. 4 Baylor had beaten No. 11 North Carolina, and was waiting for Notre Dame. But, Notre Dame was waiting for Baylor as well.

“We were really excited after that win [over Stanford], and we believed we could knock off the No. 4 team [Baylor] as well,” Tefft said.

The team did just that, in much less dramatic fashion than the day prior, but dramatic nonetheless, as it was again, only a one-point victory, 4-3. The Irish won the doubles point, despite the first loss of the season by the No. 1 duo of Tefft and freshmen Kristy Frilling. Once the six singles matches split, the Irish were victorious.

“Overall, we were really confident going into these matches,” Tefft admitted. “Even though we weren’t supposed to win, we do think we can do it, and we have the players to do it.”

Such confidence was going to be a necessity if Notre Dame was to upset top-ranked Northwestern, but, in the end, the confidence was not enough.

“They [Northwestern] have basically the exact same team they had last year when we lost 4-3 to them,” Tefft said. “I feel like our team this year is stronger than last year’s, but we didn’t play our best today. We had a few matches that just didn’t turn out very well, and people didn’t play their best.”

The 4-1 defeat ended the team’s indoor season one day earlier than it would have preferred, but the weekend was still considered a grand success. Even the loss itself provides motivation and goals to set.

“We are just going to learn from it for when we play them again in the beginning of April,” Tefft said as she thought ahead.

Of the weekend as a whole, Tefft feels the team will take away both positive thoughts as well as the knowledge of what needs to be improved.

“We are pleased with this weekend,” she said. “But all of us lost matches, whether it be singles or doubles. We were challenged much more this weekend than we have been so far this season. Now we need to individually work on the things we saw this weekend that need to be improved upon.”