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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish open season at Fall Invite

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, October 8, 2009

After playing each other for the past month, the Irish will finally see some outside competition this weekend as two members of the team head to California while the rest of the team plays in the Wildcat Fall Invitational at Northwestern.

“We have been practicing for a month now, playing just each other,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “It is time to get out and play some other teams and see some other types of games.”

Ranked at No. 20 in the preseason polls, Sophomore Kristy Frilling will compete in the singles tournament at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Frilling and senior Kali Krisik, ranked No. 15 in preseason doubles rankings, will also play in the tournament. The two form a new No. 1 doubles team for the Irish, and Louderback said playing together this early will benefit them.

“It is great for them to get exposure since they haven’t played together against the top doubles teams,” he said. “It is good exposure for them to get that good competition early.”

Frilling will open the singles tournament Thursday against No. 13 Reka Zsilinszka of Duke. Last season, Frilling beat the Blue Devil 6-4, 6-2, when the teams met in a dual meet in March.

Frilling and Krisik will begin the doubles competition facing the No. 7 duo from Tennessee of senior Caitlin Whoriskey and sophomore Natalie Pluskota. Whoriskey and Pluskota knocked Frilling and then-senior Kelcy Tefft out of the NCAA Doubles Championship last spring.

“By playing a NCAA semifinal team right off the bat, it’ll be good to see how [Frilling and Krisik] do against that tough competition,” Louderback said.

While Frilling and Krisik represent Notre Dame on the national level, the rest of the team healthy enough to play will do so on the regional level Friday at the Wildcat Fall Invitational.

Seniors Colleen Rielley and Cosmina Ciobanu, junior Kristen Rafael and freshman Christine McGaffigan will play at the invitational against eight Midwestern teams, including Big East foe DePaul.

“We are taking the whole team [to Northwestern] but [Rielley, Ciobanu, Rafael, and McGaffigan] are the only ones healthy enough to play right now.”

The tournament should give the Irish a chance to shake off months of rust, Louderback said.

“A few of them played a little over the summer, but some of them haven’t played matches since the NCAA tournament in May,” Louderback said. “We use the fall just to go play in some of the individual tournaments to give the kids a chance to get some match experience.”

By the end of the weekend, Notre Dame should have some of that match experience, including challenging matches against the strongest competition in the country.