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ND Women’s Tennis: No. 19 Irish struggle against No. 20 Georgia Tech

Observer Staff Report | Friday, March 25, 2011

A trip to Atlanta concluded in disappointment, as the  Irish fell 5-2 to Georgia Tech. Singles brought the most surprising outcomes of the day, with freshmen stepping forward to earn victories as third-ranked junior Kristy Frilling fell for the first time in singles play this season.

The No. 19 Irish entered the competition with a 9-7 record hot off a 5-2 win over Tennessee. No. 20 Georgia Tech carried a 7-5 record into the match following a 4-3 triumph over No. 14 Vanderbilt. The Yellow Jackets have three ranked singles athletes, the highest of which is No. 49 Jillian O’Neill.

The Yellow Jackets put away the Irish Thursday, taking the doubles point and four of six singles matches. The No. 1 singles match began the downward spiral, as Frilling fell to O’Neill 6-3, 6-0.

From there, the Irish struggled to find a rhythm. On the No. 2 court, No. 38 junior Shannon Mathews fell to No. 82 Viet Ha Ngo 6-4, 7-6. Senior Kristen Rafael was unable to overcome No. 83 junior Caroline Lilley in the No. 3 singles match, falling 7-6, 6-2. Sophomore Chrissie McGaffigan faced sophomore Elizabeth Kilborn in No. 5 singles, but after three sets fell 6-1, 4-6 and 6-2.

Despite the difficulties the upperclassmen faced, two Irish freshmen managed to find success.

Freshman Jennifer Kellner, now ranked No. 107, moved up to the No. 4 singles spot and faced senior Sasha Krupina. The first set went in Krupina’s favor, when she took six points to Kellner’s four. After that, Kellner took the match, winning the remaining two sets 7-6 and 10-8.

At the No. 6 spot, freshman Julie Sabacinski took both sets against junior Lynn Blau 7-6, 6-3.

In doubles play, the No. 33 pair of Frilling and Mathews pulled out a victory, the lone doubles win for the Irish. The pair defeated Ha Ngo and O’Neill 8-6 at the No. 1 spot. McGaffigan and Rafael lost a close 9-8 match to Krupina and Kilborn, while Kellner and Sabacinski were unable to carry forward their singles wins, falling to Blau and Lilley 8-3.

The Irish have a break this weekend and resume play at home April 1 against Long Beach State at 4 p.m.