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ND Women’s Tennis: McGaffigan adjusts to sophomore season

Matt Robison | Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Before she came to Notre Dame, sophomore Chrissie McGaffigan was playing three varsity sports as a senior in Davenport, Iowa. But none of those sports was tennis.

Regardless, McGaffigan joined the Irish squad as the Tennisrecruiting.net’s No. 32 national recruit and made an immediate impact during her freshman season. This year, her play is continually on the rise as she constantly works to improve on the court.

Irish coach Jay Louderback praised the effort and drive McGaffigan has shown this season, especially since she has less experience than most of her teammates.

“She hasn’t played as much tennis as most of her teammates, but is getting more experience every semester,” Louderback said. “You can always count on Chrissie to work hard in practice.”

As far as mechanics go, McGaffigan’s natural athleticism has facilitated her efforts to become a better all-around tennis player, as well as create a unique style of play.

“She is very athletic and moves well,” Louderback said. “Chrissie plays a bigger game and is working on being more aggressive by coming to the net more after her big forehand. She also uses her serve well to set up easier shots.”

Although she has not played tennis as much as she has other sports, McGaffigan’s extensive experience as an athlete has contributed to her ability to lead and motivate her teammates. As a sophomore, she is already in a position of leadership due to the Notre Dame team’s youth. Half of the roster is freshmen, and McGaffigan’s role as a leader with the other returning Irish players has been and will continue to be essential to the team’s development.

“Having played four sports, Chrissie knows what it is like to play on a team,” Louderback said. “She is very good at helping motivating her teammates and realizes how important it is for a team to work for toward the same goals.”

Perhaps most notable about McGaffigan’s leadership and team-focused mindset is her infectious personality that carries over from the locker room onto the court.

“She is very outgoing off the court and is learning to bring that to the court as well,” Louderback said.

Last season, McGaffigan went 16-10 in her matches overall, 16-9 in dual play, 4-0 Big East, and 0-1 on tour. At one point, she climbed to the No. 90 in the national ranks. In doubles, she was 10-5 with senior Kristen Rafael, 3-3 with graduated senior Cosmina Ciobanu, 4-1 with junior Shannon Mathews and 1-0 with graduated senior Kali Krisik.

The improvement Louderback speaks of has already been visible in Notre Dame’s fall season where she has gone 4-2 in singles and 2-2 in doubles with freshman Julie Sabacinski. At the Eck Tennis Classic, hosted by the Irish, McGaffigan advanced to the semifinals in the blue singles draw and the quarterfinals of the blue doubles bracket with Sabacinski.

McGaffigan will be looked to once more when the Irish travel to Champaign, Ill., next week to compete in the Illinois Blast tournament.