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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish host ITA Kickoff Weekend

John Helms | Friday, January 29, 2010

After an impressive start to the season against quality Big Ten opponents Iowa and Wisconsin, the No. 6 Irish make their home debut this weekend as they host No. 17 North Carolina, No. 33 Boise State and No. 46 DePaul for the ITA Kickoff Weekend.

Last weekend, Notre Dame knocked off the Hawkeyes, 6-1 and Badgers, 7-0. The Irish will look to ride that momentum into this weekend, particularly in doubles.

“Doubles last weekend I was really happy with,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said.

Going into the season, the doubles performance was the biggest concern for the Irish. The team was hampered by injuries all through the fall, and no one was quite sure what to expect.

“The doubles teams really hadn’t played together,” Louderback said.

But if the girls were having any problems adjusting, they certainly didn’t show it last weekend. In particular, Louderback praised the number two doubles team of senior Cosmina Ciobanu and freshman Chrissie McGaffigan, saying he was impressed with their performance.

“I was really happy with number two doubles,” he said.

Ciobanu and McGaffigan won both their matches, winning handily against Wisconsin and pulling out a close one against Iowa. Overall, the team went an impressive 5-1 over the weekend in doubles, with the only loss coming at three doubles against Wisconsin, losing a close match, 8-6.

Equally impressive was Irish number one singles player, sophomore Kristy Frilling, who handled the Hawkeye’s highly touted No. 65 Sonja Molnar. Frilling won in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3.

The girls know this weekend presents a whole set of new challenges.

“This weekend, we’ve got tougher matches against some top-40 teams,” Louderback said. “DePaul has a doubles team in the top 10 and North Carolina also has teams ranked ahead of us.”

The Irish aren’t letting their high ranking go to their heads either, as senior leadership has helped the girls stay humble and hungry.

“They haven’t [been paying attention to the high-ranking],” Louderback said. “We have three seniors. They’ve been through it. The reality is that it’s nice to be ranked early, but it really doesn’t matter until we play some of these top teams.”

This weekend presents the first of two matches the girls have set on the schedule against DePaul this year, with a possible third meeting to occur between the teams in the Big East tournament.

The girls start the weekend off at 3 p.m. on Saturday, and will play at either 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. on Sunday.