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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish fall to Yellow Jackets in finals of ITA

Chris Hine | Monday, February 5, 2007

It was nearly a perfect weekend for Notre Dame.

For the first time in school history, the Irish advanced to the finals of the ITA National Indoor Tournament, but a red-hot Georgia Tech squad stung No. 4 Notre Dame’s dream of victory.

Yellow Jackets freshman Amanda Craddock defeated Irish junior Brook Buck in three sets (2-6, 7-5, 6-2), clinching a 4-2 victory over Notre Dame (5-1) and the title for No. 6 Georgia Tech (4-0).

“They just have really good singles and really good doubles players,” Irish freshman Cosmina Ciobanu said. “They just played better than we did.”

Before Sunday’s final match, the Yellow Jackets faced No. 1 Stanford in the semifinals Saturday. The Cardinal had not lost in their last 89 matches – an NCAA record that spanned the past three years. Georgia Tech snapped that streak with a 4-3 victory, winning the final two singles matches of the meet to complete the upset.

On Sunday, the Yellow Jackets came out firing against the Irish, claiming the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. After the teams split the first two doubles matches, the unranked tandem of Whitney McCray/Kristi Miller upset Notre Dame’s pairing of No. 11 seniors Christian and Catrina Thompson 9-7 to claim the point for Georgia Tech. It was the first time all year the Irish lost the doubles point.

Yellow Jackets freshman Kirsten Flower knocked off Irish freshman Colleen Rielley (6-2, 6-1), and Tech sophomore Christy Striplin defeated Christian Thompson (6-1, 6-3) to give the Yellow Jackets a 3-0 lead.

Catrina Thompson put Notre Dame on the board with a hard-fought victory over Miller (6-3, 2-6, 6-1), and Ciobanu kept the pressure on the Yellow Jackets by beating Tarryn Rudman (7-5, 6-3) to pull the Irish within one. With the win, Ciobanu earned a perfect 4-0 record in her singles matches for the tournament.

But Craddock’s victory over Buck ended hopes of an Irish comeback. The final singles match between Notre Dame sophomore Kelcy Tefft and Tech senior Alison Silverio was suspended before it could finish because the Yellow Jackets had already won the title.

The Irish reached the finals with tins over No. 18 Clemson and No. 10 Baylor in the early rounds and then a victory over No. 8 Northwestern sophomore Nazlie Ghazal (7-6, 7-6) to boost the Irish to their first ever finals appearance in the tournament.

The Observer was unable to contact Irish coach Jay Louderback Sunday.