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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish struggle against Blue Devils

Katie Heit | Sunday, March 4, 2012

After a dominating 7-0 win over Iowa on Friday, the Irish lost a tough matchup against Duke on Saturday, falling to the Blue Devils 6-1.

The No. 17 Irish (9-4) started off the day strongly against No. 3 Duke (10-1), securing the doubles point with victories from No. 2 seniors Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews and sophomores Britney Sanders and Julie Sabacinski. Both doubles pairings defeated ranked opponents.

Notre Dame was unable to keep its momentum up heading into singles play. All six Irish competitors lost their matches, though the scores were close.

“Duke has a very strong singles lineup and we knew that going into singles,” Sabacinski said. “All of our matches were tight with them and many of them could have gone either way.”

Mathews fell 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to Duke’s Beatrice Capra, ranked second in the nation in singles. Frilling dropped her match to Hanna Mar 6-4, 6-2, and three other members of the Irish team fell to similarly ranked opponents.

The loss to Duke marked an end to the four-game winning streak the Irish had extended against Iowa (4-3) the day before. Notre Dame was flawless for the fourth time this season, winning every match in both singles and doubles throughout the day. Each game was won in straight sets, with the exception of Mathew’s contest against Sonja Molnar, which Mathews won 6-1, 6-7 (5-6), 1-0 (10-6).

Sabacinski and Sanders were highlights of the weekend, bringing their doubles record to 5-1. Sabacinski, who played with Sanders before to coming to Notre Dame, said the success the pairing has found is not surprising.

“Our game styles complement each other well,” Sabacinski said. “We have confidence in one another and really enjoy playing together.”

Notre Dame will use the break to take on four opponents in Honolulu. Sabacinski said she and her team will look to put their match against Duke behind him in favor of the competition ahead.

“We need to look at everything positive that came out of the matches this weekend and use it to build our confidence for our upcoming matches,” she said.

The Irish will take the court in Honolulu on March 12 against Texas Tech at 5 p.m.

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu