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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish carry momentum from recent triumphs

Megan Finneran | Friday, March 4, 2011

The Irish put former troubles and losses in the past last weekend, enjoying their sweep of the Blue-Gray Tournament in Montgomery, Ala. This weekend, they hope to maintain that momentum as they head into a pair of matches against Indiana and Baylor.

Following an upset of No. 9 Virginia last weekend, Irish sophomore Chrissie McGaffigan said the squad’s morale is in a good place.

“Winning the Blue-Gray Tournament and being successful against three top-ranked teams gave us a nice boost in confidence,” McGaffigan said.

McGaffigan was among the crucial members of the team that stepped up for a big weekend, starting the championship game with a victory in the first singles match. The No. 19 Irish went on to win each of the six singles competitions to defeat Virginia 4-0.

“I’ve been working hard on staying focused each and every point, and to try to play smart and aggressively through the entire match,” McGaffigan said.

Also contributing to the effort was the freshman duo of Jennifer Kellner and Julie Sabacinski, who triumphed over Virginia’s No. 51 pair 8-4.

This weekend, McGaffigan and the rest of her teammates hope to do the same thing.

“My goal is to improve and get stronger with each match,” she said. “We all will continue to push ourselves hard and build on our success last weekend.”

Friday kicks off with a match against Indiana. Despite a 10-2 record, the Hoosiers are ranked 37th in the country after a 4-3 victory over Kentucky. Indiana carries a roster stacked with three seniors who bring experience to the court.

Baylor, on the other hand, poses a more serious threat to the Irish. The No. 7 Bears recently swept No. 60 Fresno State by a score of 7-0. The Baylor doubles teams may pose a challenge for the No. 1 doubles team of juniors Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews and the No. 2 doubles team of senior Kristen Rafael and sophomore McGaffigan.

“Last weekend really was the confidence booster we needed to go into the rest of the season, especially for this weekend since we play Baylor,” Frilling said. “We know we can compete with and beat these top teams.”

The Irish travel to Bloomington, Ind. Friday, where they compete against the Hoosiers at 3 p.m. Notre Dame hosts the Bears Sunday at noon.

“Indiana and Baylor are both very good teams, but we are well prepared and eager to compete this weekend,” McGaffigan said.