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ND Women’s Tennis: Road matches just what team needed

Molly Sammon | Monday, February 8, 2010

Though they dropped seven spots after their first loss of the season, the No. 13 Irish women’s tennis team redeemed themselves this weekend by defeating Kansas 7-0 and Michigan 4-3 on the road.

“They bounced back really great after last weekend,” Irish assistant coach Julia Scaringe said. “We had a disappointment against North Carolina last weekend, but the girls bounced back against Kansas and Michigan.”

Saturday, the Irish traveled to Lawrence, Kan., where Notre Dame snagged each of the event’s possible seven points.

“This Kansas team we didn’t know a ton about, and they’re one of those teams that sneak up on you,” Scaringe said. “We hadn’t played them in a few years. They were a very competitive team with a lot of big hitters, but our girls reacted really well.”

The Irish started strong by winning the doubles point with victories for each of the three doubles teams. No. 12 first doubles pair sophomore Kristy Frilling and senior Kali Krisik easily defeated their unranked Jayhawk opponents, 8-2. Doubles pairs of senior Cosmina Ciobanu and freshman Chrissie McGaffigan and sophomore Shannon Mathews and senior Colleen Rielley each contributed to a doubles point win for the Irish. 

Singles victories from Frilling, Mathews, McGaffigan, Krisik, Ciobanu and Rielley led to Saturday’s sweep by the Irish.

Though the Wolverines put up a good fight against Notre Dame Sunday, a few mishaps on the court by Michigan allowed the Irish to inch by with a score of 4-3.

“We played a Michigan team that was incredible,” Scaringe said. “It’s always a good rivalry, they competed well, and I couldn’t be happier with their performance today.”   

Unlike Kansas, whom the Irish have not played in a few years, the Irish have played Michigan for many seasons in a row and could confidently make judgments of exactly what type of play they would be seeing on the court before the match began.

“We know them really well,” Scaringe said. “It was good to play someone you’ve already seen.”

Frilling and Krisik won the first doubles competition, but the other two doubles teams of Mathews and Rielley and Ciobanu and McGaffigan were both defeated as Michigan picked up the first point of the afternoon and the upper hand for the beginning of the match.

Singles victories from Frilling, Mathews, McGaffigan and Krisik gave the Irish their four total points Sunday. Frilling and Krisik each improved their personal singles records to 6-0.
McGaffigan’s defeat of Michigan’s Rika Tatsuno brought plenty of excitement for the crowd that gathered in Ann Arbor Sunday. Going into the third set, McGaffigan was able to suppress Tatsuno’s ability to score and she clinched the win for the Irish. 

“[McGaffigan] tore through that set,” Scaringe said. “Sometimes freshmen get nervous in that position, but she did a great job.”

According to Scaringe, the coaching staff recognized a huge improvement from the girls since their loss against North Carolina last weekend.

“[Louderback and I] noticed that they didn’t focus on their lack of play. They focused on doing the right things that they needed to do, and they played like themselves,” Scaringe said.

Though the Irish won both of their events this weekend, the results showed a particular area of the game that needs attention to ensure that the rest of the season is a success.

“We lost the doubles point twice now which is very uncharacteristic of us,” Scaringe said. “We had only three times entire season last year, so to have lost it twice already this season means we’ll need to work on doubles.”

Next up for the Irish is a meet against Illinois on Feb. 20 at Notre Dame’s Eck Tennis Pavilion.