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ND Women’s Tennis: Duke narrowly defeats Notre Dame squad

Dan Masterton | Friday, February 22, 2008

Notre Dame could not hand undefeated Duke its first loss of the season, as the No. 8 Blue Devils beat the Irish 4-3 in Durham, N.C. Thursday.

Colleen Rielley and Cosmina Ciobanu started the match strong with an 8-5 doubles win, and Kali Krisik and Kristen Rafael clinched the doubles point for No. 15 Notre Dame (6-5) with an 8-6 victory.

Even with the doubles point in hand, Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft, the No. 3 pair in the nation, made a strong showing, completing a sweep of the doubles matches with an 8-6 win.

Duke stole the momentum back, however – Ciobanu and Katie Potts dropped the first two singles matches, each by the score of 6-3, 6-1.

Krisik responded for the Irish by winning a hard-fought match over Duke’s Amanda Granson, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3). Granson pushed Krisik to a tiebreaker in the second set, but Krisik overcame Granson’s rally to tie the match at two.

The Blue Devils answered back when Tara Ayer defeated Buck 6-3, 6-4. Ayer’s victory put the pressure back on Notre Dame, and it was up to Rielley and Tefft to win both the remaining matches.

Rielley pushed Duke’s Reka Zsilinszka to three sets, but the No. 13 singles player in the country won the third set convincingly. Zsilinszka’s 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory won the match for Duke.

The Irish finished strong as No. 59 Tefft fought her way to an upset victory over No. 16 Ellah Nze. Tefft rallied after losing the first set to improve to 10-1 in singles play on the dual season. Her 5-7, 8-6, 10-7 win made the final score 4-3 in favor of Duke.

The Irish will have to put this loss behind them quickly – two more elite opponents loom on this weekend’s three-game road trip. The tough stretch continues today as the Irish travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., to battle No. 19 Wake Forest (2-1).

The Demon Deacons have not played in 19 days, but they will try to shake off the rust and avenge a 7-0 loss to Notre Dame last year. The all-time series is tied 9-9, but the Irish have won three straight. They will look to make it four in a row at the WFU Indoor Tennis Center at 3 p.m. today.