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ND Women’s Tennis: Senior pairing places second in NY event

Katie Heit | Monday, November 7, 2011

The Irish found success in two locations with a split roster as senior captains Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews placed second in the ITA National Individual Indoor Championship in New York and the rest of the roster battled in the Eck Tennis Classic at Notre Dame.

Frilling and Mathews started off the weekend as the fifth seed in the round of 32 and claimed an easy 8-2 victory over Chelsey Gullickson and Lilly Kimbell of the University of Georgia to advance to the quarterfinals. While the doubles partnership only found success, singles play Thursday did not yield positive results for Frilling, who entered singles play as an at-large selection.

Frilling fell to Zoe Scandalis from USC 6-4, 6-3. Friday, the doubles pair took on Duke’s Beatrice Capra and Ester Goldfeld in the quarterfinals. It took 13 games to reach a conclusion, with the Irish duo coming out on top 8-5.

“I think everything we had been working on in practice finally paid off in the tournament this weekend,” Frilling said. “We played aggressive, solid, consistent doubles every match and I think that helped our confidence progress throughout the weekend.”

Frilling then competed in the singles consolation bracket against Aleksandra Josifoska out of UNLV, but lost in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, eliminating her from singles competition.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team began play at the Eck Classic, hosted by the Irish. The team snatched seven victories in the day in both singles and doubles. Junior Chrissie McGaffigan claimed the first win over Oklahoma’s Nicole Long 6-4, 6-3. Sophomore Julie Sabacinski defeated Wake Forest’s Rebecca Siegler 7-5, 6-0 and sophomore Jennifer Kellner snatched the victory from Wake Forest’s Ryann Cutillo. Sophomore Britney Sanders and freshman Katherine White both earned three-set victories later in the day.

Saturday brought Frilling and Mathews great success as they defeated Stanford’s top-seeded Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs in only two sets, 7-5, 7-6. The win sent them into the championships on Sunday, where they faced USC’s Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria. The pair won the initial set 6-4, but couldn’t keep in up for the rest of the match, and lost the second and third sets 6-4, 6-3 respectively.

“Tennis is such a mental game and if you let off on the game plan for a few games that can totally change everything,” Frilling said. “I think at one point we relaxed a bit and did not play as aggressive, and in the end, that hurt us.”

The loss left the Irish duo as runners-up in the tournament overall, a title that Frilling earned with former doubles partner and now assistant coach Kelcy Tefft in 2008. Frilling said she is disappointed with the loss, but plans on using it as a learning experience heading into the rest of the fall season.

“Going forward, I think Shannon and I, first of all, have to put the loss in the finals behind us and learn from it,” Frilling said. “It was great to make it to the finals, but I think we know what we are capable of and want to keep working hard to win every match we play.”

Meanwhile in South Bend, the Irish grabbed seven more wins against Oklahoma. Sabacinski, Kellner and McGaffigan all claimed two-set victories, and overall the Irish claimed three out of five doubles matches. Sunday brought two easy wins for Kellner and McGaffigan, bringing both to a weekend record of 3-0.

The Irish are next in action Friday at the Lakewood Ranch Invitational in Lakewood, Fla.