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ND Women’s Tennis: Senior captains lead young team to three-victory weekend

Vicky Jacobsen | Sunday, January 22, 2012

Notre Dame enjoyed a nearly perfect opening weekend, sweeping Cincinnati and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) 7-0 and earning a 6-1 win over Missouri in a span of 30 hours.

“The girls played really well this weekend. It was great — everyone got to play doubles or singles yesterday and today and everyone played really well,” Irish assistant coach Kelcy Tefft said. “I liked the intensity and I’m excited for a good season.”

The No. 20 Irish (3-0) began their Saturday afternoon sweep of the Bearcats (0-2) by winning each of the three doubles slots, earning the point awarded to the team that wins the majority of doubles match-ups.

Seniors Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews, the fifth-ranked pairing nationally, seemed in control against junior Jasmine Lee and sophomore Ashleigh Witte, racking up a 7-1 lead, but lost the next two games before winning the third to claim an 8-3 victory.

Irish sophomore Britney Sanders and freshman Katherine White, ranked 25th nationally, easily dispatched senior Safiyya Ismail and sophomore Sierra Sullivan with an 8-1 win. Sophomores Julie Sabacinski and JoHanna Manningham appeared to be on the same path, as they won their first six games. But the Bearcats — now playing for pride as the other two Irish pairs had already secured the point from the doubles slots — rallied, winning four of the next five games in their most impressive display of the afternoon before the Irish took the next game and the victory.

Notre Dame did not drop a set in any of the six singles matches against Cincinnati. Frilling defeated Lee, Cincinnati’s top player 6-0, 6-2, and three of the Irish lost just one game: Sanders and McGaffigan defeated Ismail and Sullivan, respectively, both with a score of 6-0, 6-1, while White took down sophomore Carly Wilson 6-1, 6-0. Sophomore Jennifer Kellner beat Bearcat sophomore Ashleigh Witte 6-2, 6-3, and although Mathews trailed 2-3 in the first set against freshman Kristina Georgieva, she won 10 straight games on her way to a 6-3, 6-0 victory.

The dual match wins were firsts for both White and Sanders.

“It was great to see Katherine, our freshman, and Britney, since this is her first dual season out in action,” Tefft said. “They both played really well this year and I think they’re going to help us out a lot.”

The Irish continued their doubles dominance against Missouri on Sunday morning. Frilling and Mathews beat senior Nina Pantic and sophomore Rachel Stuhlmann 8-1, while both Sanders and White and Kellner and McGaffigan beat their opponents (senior Jamie Mera and freshman Alex Clark and juniors Maria Christensen and Annemijn Koenen, respectively) 8-1.

Although Frilling fell to Pantic (6-3, 6-1) in the only Irish loss of the weekend, Mathews and Kellner dispatched their opponents easily. Sabacinski needed a tie-breaker, but defeated Koenen 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). McGaffigan beat Mera 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 and Sanders overcame Stuhlmann 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in two of the closest matches of the weekend.

The Irish showed no sign of fatigue in their final matches as they quickly buried the Mastodons. Sanders and White beat senior Alex Forsyth and junior Anita Henestrosa 8-1, Kellner and McGaffigan defeated seniors Raquel Vescovi and Frederique Sunstrum 8-0, and Manningham and Sabacinski sent sophomore Alyssa Tucker and freshman Marcy Huck home with an 8-2 loss.

The Irish won each of their six singles matches without giving up a set; Sabacinski lost just one game to Sunstum while Frilling and Manningham did not drop a single game.

Tefft attributed the team’s success to hard work between the fall and spring seasons.

“Three matches in two days is always difficult, just because you’re playing doubles and singles, but the girls did well with their conditioning over Christmas break and over the last two weeks,” Tefft said. “I think they’re in pretty good shape.”

The Irish will return to action at Yale at 2 p.m. Saturday as part of National Team Indoor Regional Qualifying.


Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu