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ND Women’s Tennis: Wolverines end Notre Dame’s winning streak

Kelsey Manning | Thursday, March 22, 2012

After a successful three-match jaunt in Hawaii featuring a marathon win over then-No. 20 Texas Tech, the No. 17 Irish returned to the mainland Wednesday only to be defeated by the new No. 20 – rival Michigan.

The high point of the contest for Notre Dame (12-5) was its doubles play, with No. 2 sophomores Julie Sabacinski and Britney Sanders and No. 3 sophomore Jennifer Kellner and junior Chrissie McGaffigan both notching 8-6 victories to nab the doubles point for the Irish. Despite the nationally-ranked No. 1 doubles pair of senior captains Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews falling to the No. 7 duo of sophomore Brooke Bolender and freshman Emina Bektas, Irish coach Jay Louderback said the doubles portion of the match got Notre Dame off to a good start against the Wolverines (8-5).

“Both the two and the three got us in a good position for the match,” he said. “Both played really well, served well and the last couple games of both matches we hit a lot of first serves. They played really well, it just boils down to that.”

But once singles play got underway, Louderback said the Irish were for the most part plagued with errors in what turned out to be a very quick contest. Notre Dame began the singles portion with a quick loss at No. 6 for freshman Katherine White, but Sanders was able to even the singles count with a 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory at No. 4, giving the Irish a 2-1 lead overall. That was the last time Notre Dame led, as it dropped the next three matches in rapid succession. Louderback attributed the series of straight-set losses to errors.

“It was disappointing that we just made a lot of errors,” he said. “Not everyone did, but most of the kids made a lot of errors today. We just weren’t really good. It was not a long match. Usually we’re really good about finding a lot of balls and usually we can make it a long match but today we just made a lot of errors. We just didn’t make the match long enough.”

The only three-set match of the day came from No. 49 Mathews, who dropped the first set 6-1 to No. 10 Bektas before coming back with a 6-4 second set win to push the match to a third, in which Bektas prevailed 6-4. Despite the loss, Louderback said Mathews fought a hard battle.

“Mathews lost in the third but played really well,” he said. “Sanders also had a good game. But other than that we just didn’t compete well or make enough balls.”

Going forward, Louderback said, the Irish will try to tighten their play and decrease errors as they return home for a three-game homestand against Marquette, DePaul and Northwestern. With a quick turnaround before Marquette on Sunday, Louderback said he hopes his squad can put up more of a fight against the Golden Eagles.

“We really haven’t seen [Marquette] this year so we don’t know a whole lot about them. We know they have a lot of new kids from last year,” he said. “We’ll do okay hopefully and hopefully we’ll compete better against them on Sunday.”

Notre Dame gets back in action against Marquette on Sunday at noon at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Contact Kelsey Manning at kmannin3@nd.edu