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ND Women’s Tennis: Buck, Tefft advance to NCAAs

Dan Masterton | Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The 2008 season ended for Notre Dame last week at the NCAA Tournament Regionals. Notre Dame (22-9) defeated Florida International in the first round but fell in the regional final to No. 1 Miami (FL).

The Irish battled through a tough test from FIU that included multiple rain delays and less than optimal court conditions. The Irish triumphed 4-1, winning the decisive fourth point over eight hours after the match’s scheduled 2 p.m. start.

“FIU was a lot better than we thought they would be. They had six really good singles players, and we really had to play well to win,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “We got off the court Friday night at 10 and that did not help us a lot for Saturday [against Miami].”

Miami started strong by snapping Notre Dame’s 17-match doubles point win streak.

Freshman Kristen Rafael earned her first career NCAA Tournament win alongside sophomore Kali Krisik in No. 3 doubles. But sophomores Colleen Rielley and Cosmina Ciobanu fell 9-7 at No. 2, and the top pair of senior Brook Buck and junior Kelcy Tefft lost 8-6.

Miami scored three singles victories before any Irish players could take a match. Rielley, Buck and Tefft all fell in two-set matches to give Miami the 4-0 sweep.

Louderback wishes that his team could have taken the doubles point as Ciobanu and Krisik were leading in their singles matches when the Irish were eliminated.

“[Miami’s] No. 1 [doubles] team is really good, but I was disappointed we couldn’t take either of those top two doubles matches, especially after winning at No. 3. It was going to be a tight match, so not getting that doubles point killed us because you need to win it against the good teams,” Louderback said.

Despite being eliminated early, Louderback was pleased with the effort and performance staying strong through the end of the season.

“We did a lot better than in previous years playing up to our ability at the end of the year,” he said. “Our kids were really going after it in practice at the end. This year they didn’t slack off in practice at all and that helped us finish strong.”

Even though the team’s season is over, Buck and Tefft will play on. The pair was invited to play in the NCAA Doubles Tournament, and Tefft will represent Notre Dame in the singles tournament as well.

Buck and Tefft are seeded No. 3 in the 32-team tournament, and the pair won the national indoor championship this past fall.

“There’s five or six teams in doubles with a good shot to win, and [Kelcy and Brook] are definitely one of them,” Louderback said.

Tefft goes into the 64-person tournament unseeded, but she has been ranked as high as No. 38 in singles this year.

“It will be good experience at that tournament because there’s some really tough players. Kelcy had a bad blister and a sore wrist at the end of the season, so some rest before it will be good for her,” Louderback said.

Buck and Tefft will finish the year at a neutral site but in front of a home crowd.

“They’re both Oklahoma natives so it’s a great spot to play for them. They’ll both have lots of fans.”