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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish win fifth straight title

Katie Heit | Monday, April 23, 2012

CORRECTION: In the April 23 issue of The Observer, the wrong stats were reported in the article titled: “Irish win fifth straight title”. The Irish won the Big East tournament against South Florida with a score of 4-1. Senior Kristy Frilling won her match 6-1, 6-1 and was named the Most Outstanding Player for the tournament with a combined singles and doubles record of 6-0. Sophomore Jennifer Kellner won 6-4, 6-2 and clinched the victory for the Irish. Junior Chrissie McGaffigan dropped the only match for the Irish, losing 6-2, 6-3. 

Despite injuries and rain delays, the Irish dominated the field in Tampa, Fla., and played their way to a fifth-straight Big East championship.

After shutout wins over Rutgers and DePaul, the weekend finished with the championship match against South Florida on Sunday. Initially scheduled for 9 a.m., rain delays pushed the start of the final match to 2 p.m. before they could begin their contest. Despite a late rally from South Florida, the Irish claimed a 4-2 victory and the Big East title.

The Irish (19-7, 5-0 Big East) grabbed the doubles point with two close victories at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles.

Senior Kristy Frilling dropped the first match of the day at No. 1 singles, losing 7-5, 6-3 and giving the Bulls their first point. Not long after, Kellner fell 6-4, 6-4, bringing the match to 3-2.

Senior Shannon Mathews, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, came back from a 4-1 deficit in the first set before grabbing five-straight wins and clenching the Irish victory. She was 3-0 on the weekend and won every set.

“It was a really rough game,” Frilling said. “We ended up not getting to the courts until 2 [p.m.] or 3 [p.m.] Everyone did a great job of staying focused. It’s hard when you’ve been standing around all day.”

Sanders said that South Florida’s home-court advantage was a huge challenge.

“Playing [South Florida] at [South Florida] was definitely tough,” Sanders said. “We had a loud crowd against us and that definitely helped our opponents. Our biggest thing was to focus on our match and not let anything around us affect our play.”

Frilling said the victory will be a motivator heading into the NCAA championships.

Sophomore Britney Sanders said the most difficult part of the weekend was the top competition. Sanders said the matches were not easily won.

“The most difficult part was actually being the [No.] 1 seed,” Sanders said. “Every team we played had nothing to lose to they gave it their all.”

The weekend began when the Irish hit the courts Friday against Rutgers, snatching a 4-0 sweep. Notre Dame grabbed each match in only two sets. Highlights included freshman Katherine White, who stepped up against South Florida on April 13 when sophomore Julie Sabacinski was injured. White has been undefeated since stepping in.

The Irish pulled off another shutout against DePaul on Saturday to advance to the final round. Frilling and Mathews came from behind to win four straight games against Jasmin Kling and Gia McKnight to clinch the doubles point. The partners are 17-6 on the year and have won six straight matches.

“We’re really happy with how we finished out our season,” Frilling said. “We’re in the best position possible for the NCAA [tournament]. Now it’s a waiting game to see where we’ll be placed in the draw. We’ll spend the next few weeks perfecting our game as we head into the NCAA [tournament].”

Notre Dame’s road to a national championship will begin May 11, with the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament.


Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu