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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish fall to Yellow Jackets, blank Hawaii

Dan Masterton | Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Notre Dame hosted the defending national champion Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets then traveled to sunny Hawaii, spliting the pair of matches, and falling to 8-7 for the dual season.

Georgia Tech 5, Notre Dame 2

The No. 2 Yellow Jackets (10-3) came to No.19 Notre Dame on March 1, boasting six ranked singles players, including four ranked in the top 30.

The Irish started the match strong, winning the first two doubles matches and the doubles point.

“Our doubles teams played really well,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “We had lost to their one team last year.”

Irish doubles squad Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley notched the first win by a score of 8-4. The duo of Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft followed suit, avenging last year’s loss with an 8-2 victory over Georgia Tech’s Whitney McCray and Kristi Miller, the No. 19 doubles pair in the country.

With the doubles point in hand, Irish pair Kali Krisik and Kristen Rafael forced a tiebreaker in their match but dropped the tiebreaker, losing 8-7 (7-4).

Georgia Tech quickly bounced back, sweeping all three matches in the first half of singles play. The Yellow Jackets were led by No. 4 Amanda McDowell and No. 6 Kristi Miller. Krisik, Ciobanu, and Buck all came out on the losing end of their matchups and the Irish fell behind 3-1 for the match.

The Irish needed the final three singles points to take the match, but No. 19 Maya Johansson clinched the match for the Yellow Jackets, defeating Rafael, 6-3, 6-4.

The showdown between each team’s No. 1 went to Georgia Tech’s Miller, who defeated Tefft, 6-3, 6-4.

Rielley notched the only singles victory for Notre Dame. Her upset of No. 84 Christy Striplin, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), made the final score 5-2.

The outcome was not what the Irish would have liked, but the team was pleased with the effort.

“We played well overall, and the kids felt good about the match afterwards,” Louderback said.

Notre Dame 7, Hawaii 0

The outlook became sunnier for Notre Dame as they traveled to Honolulu to face Hawaii (0-8).

The Irish swept every match on the way to a 7-0 triumph.

Now the No. 1 doubles pair in the nation, Buck and Tefft got the momentum going with an 8-3 victory. Ciobanu and Rielley clinched the doubles point with an 8-1 win, and Krisik and Rafael completed the doubles sweep, winning 8-4.

Now the No. 39 singles player in the country, Tefft validated her ranking with a 6-3, 6-1 win over No. 81 Sophie Kobuch.

Buck cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win, and Ciobanu sealed the match for the Irish with a 6-1, 6-0 victory.

Krisik, now No. 113, Rafael, and Rielley all won in two sets to give Notre Dame a clean sweep of the match.

After weeks of indoor practice and matches, Louderback was happy to get some time playing outdoors.

“The biggest thing was getting a chance to get outside and play in the heat,” Louderback said. “We were outside all week, and we got a lot of work outdoors.”

In addition to the outdoor reps and confidence boost, the team took time to reach out to the community, visiting a local hospital in Hawaii.

“Our kids had a chance to visit a children’s hospital, and it was a really great experience for all of them,” Louderback said.

The Irish also took advantage of being in Hawaii and got a chance to have a little spring break, too.

“We had a nice luau while we there,” Louderback said.

Though the team now returns to chilly South Bend, the Irish look to stay on the hot streak they started in Hawaii. They take on Illinois at home Wednesday.