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ND Women’s Tennis: ND hopes to improve on last year

Alex Barker | Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Coming off a spectacular season in which the Irish knocked off four top-five teams on their way to the team’s first ever-berth in the NCAA Semifinals, Irish coach Jay Louderback has his team reloaded and poised for another run at a national title.

“We were so close to winning it all last year and I was so proud of the way our team played the entire year, especially during the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “We played with a lot of poise which I think will carry over to this year.” 

While they will surely miss the presence of former teammates Kelcy Tefft and Katie Potts – who graduated last spring – the Irish return a strong group of players who are more than capable of duplicating last season’s success.

While Potts played sparingly as a senior, the two-time All-American Tefft left behind some big shoes that will be difficult to fill.

“It is going to be hard to replace [Tefft] and [Potts]. [They] both won a lot of matches for us and were on two teams to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA’s and one final four team,” Louderback said. “[Tefft] might have been the best doubles player in the country last year and was very solid for us at No. 1 singles for two years. They were both great competitors which had a great influence on our younger players.”

Seniors Cosmina Ciobanu, Kali Krisik and Colleen Rielley have each had stellar careers with the Irish and are well-prepared to step up and meet that challenge.

“We should have good leadership this year with our three seniors,” Louderback said. “They have all won many matches for us and have been some of our most reliable doubles players.”

Ciobanu and Krisik had a great 2008-09 campaign playing side-by-side at the No. 2 doubles position on their way to a 16-6 record. Krisik posted a 28-8 record in singles competition and ended the season on an 11-game winning streak. Ciobanu was a solid 24-6 in singles play.

Rielley partnered with sophomore Shannon Mathews and ended the season with a 23-8 record at No. 3 doubles.

As strong as the three seniors are, a lot of Notre Dame’s success could depend on the performance of its sophomores who all played big roles as freshmen last season.

“Our sophomore class was outstanding as freshmen last year,” Louderback said. “They showed that they can play high in our lineup and compete with anyone nationally in both singles and doubles.”

Leading the way this season will be sophomore Kristy Frilling, who made quite a splash in her first collegiate season. Frilling stepped into the spotlight last season at No. 2 singles and played alongside Tefft at No. 1 doubles. For a period, the duo was the top-ranked doubles team in the nation and posted an incredible 34-3 record on the season.

Louderback is also looking forward to significant contributions from the freshman class once again this season as five-star recruit Christine McGaffigan joins the squad. McGaffigan played on the college circuit this past summer, winning two tournaments and reaching the semifinals of another.