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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish Clobber Illinois

Dan Masterton | Thursday, March 13, 2008

Notre Dame won its second match in a row with a dominant 6-1 victory over Illinois.

The No. 61 Illini (5-5) came out swinging in doubles action. Illinois kept pace with No. 23 Notre Dame’s (9-7) strong doubles pairs as all three matches began in a 4-4 tie.

However, the Irish extinguished the Illini’s hot start. Notre Dame’s No. 3 pair of sophomores Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley took four of the final five games en route to an 8-5 win, improving their record to 10-1 in the dual season.

Sophomore Kali Krisik and freshman Kristen Rafael sewed up the doubles point for Notre Dame by sweeping the final four games of their match. Their 8-4 win made the score 1-0, and the Irish would not relinquish the lead.

Junior Kelcy Tefft and senior Brook Buck completed the doubles sweep as the No. 1 pair in the nation finished off their opponents, 8-6.

In singles play, the Irish started strong. Junior Katie Potts battled through a tough first set against Illinois’ sophomore Kristina Minor. After starting 3-3, Potts took over the match, winning 6-4 in the first set. She carried her momentum to a 6-0 shutout in the second set to take the match.

Ciobanu was firing on all cylinders for her match. After winning the first set 6-1, Ciobanu overcame a brief mid-set rally from junior Shivani Dave in the second and finished her match with a 6-2 victory.

No. 39 Tefft kept her opponent and one of Illinois’ best singles players, freshman Leigh Finnegan, on the ropes all match long. She cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win to clinch the match for Notre Dame.

The final three matches went back-and-forth with the momentum changing sides throughout.

Even with the win in hand, No. 113 Krisik made sure the Irish finished strong. In a very even matchup, Krisik fought through a tough first set and outlasted senior Momei Qu in the second to win 7-5, 6-4.

Rielley jumped out to a 3-0 lead in dominant fashion and won the first set 6-1. However, Illinois’ freshman Marisa Labropoulos bounced back and played steady through the second set before putting Rielley away to win the match 6-4.

Since the overall match was decided, the two played a tiebreak in place of a third set to decide their match. Labropoulos took the abbreviated set 10-7, but her victory was the only point for Illinois.

The toughest match of the day was between Notre Dame’s Brook Buck and Illinois’ sophomore Megan Fudge. Up 6-5, Buck was one game away from winning the first set, but a series of long rallies and deuces ended up in Fudge’s favor forcing a tiebreaker.

Buck refocused and elevated her game to take the tiebreak 7-1. She won the second set 6-3 to make the final score for the match 6-1 in favor of the Irish.

The match was a combination of tough, grind-it-out wins and convincing, dominant victories for Notre Dame. They continued their dominance of doubles play and for the second straight match, dominated singles play as well.

The two-game home stand for the Irish concludes with a match against Eastern Michigan on Friday at 4 p.m.