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ND Women’s Tennis: ND upsets top-ranked Wildcats

Molly Sammon | Monday, February 22, 2010

For the first time in program history, Notre Dame beat the top-ranked team in the country. No. 17 Notre Dame followed a 5-2 victory over Illinois Saturday with a 5-2 upset of No. 1 Northwestern Sunday.

The Wildcats won the ITA National Kick-off Tournament last weekend, an event for which the Irish failed to qualify.

“When we were preparing for this weekend, the kids were upset with their ranking, not qualifying for the National Indoor Tournament and they felt like they needed to get some of their respect back,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “The kids came back and fought hard.”

Against the Illini, the Irish first won the doubles point with the help of the No. 8 doubles pairing of sophomore Kristy Frilling and senior Kali Krisik. Partners Shannon Mathews and freshman Chrissie McGaffigan won their doubles match, as did seniors Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley.

After losing the doubles point twice this season, the Irish have spent a large amount of their time in practice working on making sure that they had a good shot at getting both doubles points this weekend.

“We switched the combinations of the second and first doubles teams and the kids played well together,” Louderback said. “We have been struggling and working on doubles a lot, but switching the teams around really helped us.”

In the singles competition against Illinois, No. 23 Frilling beat the Illini’s No. 85 Rachael White. Victories from McGaffigan, Krisik and Ciobanu rounded out the score to 5-2.

“We had a tougher match against Illinois, and we played a little tentatively as we were down and had to come back” Louderback said. “Though we lost a few of the first sets, the kids hung in there and competed well in the end.”

The hype associated with beating Illinois carried over into Sunday.

“It was one of the few times we’ve competed as an underdog,” Louderback said.
The three doubles teams repeated their sweep against the Wildcats for the first point of the highly contested match.

In singles competition, Frilling beat Northwestern’s No. 12 first singles player Maria Mosolova who defeated Frilling during the fall 2009 portion of the season. Mathews and Chrissie McGaffigan each defeated their nationally ranked opponents, No. 29 Samantha Murray and No. 108 Kate Turvy, respectively, to clinch the Irish win Sunday. Senior Cosmina Ciobanu added a fifth point to Notre Dame’s final score.

“We have a great rivalry with Northwestern,” Louderback said. “Especially after they won the National Indoor Tournament last weekend, our kids felt like it was a good opportunity for us. They always play a good, fair and clean match.”