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Women’s Tennis: Team takes third Big East title in four years

Douglas Farmer | Monday, April 20, 2009

After a dominating weekend, another gold trophy has been added to the women’s tennis trophy case.

No. 2 Notre Dame (22-4, 6-0) claimed its ninth overall Big East title by winning the Big East tournament Sunday. The team successfully defended last year’s title’ and won the crown for the third time in four years.

The Irish opened the tournament with a 4-0 sweep of Pittsburgh Friday, and then quickly replicated the victory with a 4-0 win over Rutgers Saturday. In the championship match Sunday, Notre Dame won 4-2 over DePaul, the second victory over the Blue Demons in two weeks. As made evident by the lopsided scores, the entire team contributed to this display of Big East supremacy.

“Everyone played well the whole weekend, especially since we hadn’t been outside for awhile,” senior captain Kelcy Tefft said.

Each of the three matches began with Notre Dame sweeping the doubles point without difficulty – no match came closer than 8-2. The sweeps brought second-ranked Tefft and freshmen Kristy Frilling’s season doubles record to 34-3, and freshmen Shannon Mathews and junior Colleen Rielley’s dual match record to 20-8.

These doubles points set the stage for the Irish to cruise to victory. The two points DePaul won equaled the number of points Notre Dame lost in their five victories since last beating DePaul.

“DePaul is a very good team, and I was a little bit nervous about it going in because we had a pretty tight match with them at their place two weeks ago,” Tefft said. “But everyone played really well, and we’re all happy with everyone’s performance.”

This is the third Big East title in the careers of seniors Tefft and Katie Potts.

“Every year it is fun to come down to Florida and even more fun to return home with a victory,” Tefft said.

Last season the Irish came away from Big East play laden with awards. Most notably, Tefft won Player of the Year and head coach Jay Louderback was awarded Coach of the Year. The end of the season awards will come out early this coming week, and after earning the Big East championship, more accolades will likely come the team’s way.

“We should represent pretty well on all-tournament teams across the board,” Tefft said.

Now on a six-match winning streak, Notre Dame approaches the NCAA tournament in prime form.

“We have a few weeks off to recover from some injuries and work on our conditioning a little bit,” Tefft said. “Then we just need to be ready in early May whenever we host NCAA Regionals.”

NCAA Regionals will be the weekend of May 9, and if the Irish prevail, the team will advance to sectionals at Texas A&M.