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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish dominate tournament

Megan Finneran | Monday, November 8, 2010

Competing in the second-to-last event of the fall semester, the Irish racked multiple victories at the Midwest Blast as they prepare for the season’s mid-year transition.

The squad only dropped one match on the third and final round of play Sunday in three doubles and five singles matches, following Friday’s impressive showing of seven singles wins and two doubles wins.

The weekend tournament, hosted by the University of Illinois at the Atkins Tennis Center, concluded with strong performances in both singles and doubles competition. The pair of senior Kristen Rafael and freshman Britney Sanders began action Sunday morning by beating the Illinois duo of Rachael White and Misia Kedzierski 8-2.

The winning streak continued with sophomore Chrissie McGaffigan and freshman Jennifer Kellner, who triumphed over Chelcie Abajian and Amy Allin of Illinois by a score of 8-4. The lone loss of the day came from senior Shannon Mathews and freshman Julie Sabacinski, who fell to Leigh Finnegan and Allison Falkin in an 8-6 match.

In singles competition, the Irish won all five matches on Sunday. Highlights included Rafael’s 6-1, 6-2 victory over Oklahoma’s Whitney Ritchie, McGaffigan’s 6-2, 6-3 win over Oklahoma’s Mia Lancaster and Kellner’s 6-4, 6-2 win over Tara Eckel.

“My personal highlight was the moment I won my last match,” Rafael said. “It marked my last fall tournament of my career. I wanted to end with a win. I was very proud and sad, but mostly excited for the spring season.”

The final singles victory came from Sanders, who took her opponent into three sets, beating Maria Kalashnikova from Oklahoma by a score of 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

While the final day of play brought great strides for the team, the previous two did as well. The Irish found their toughest opponent in Friday’s matchup against Illinois.

Despite the tougher competition, the Irish came away with eight wins on the initial day against the Illini, falling in only one match.

“Illinois had the intensity of a dual match and made us all rise to our best abilities,” freshman JoHanna Manningham said.

Junior Kristy Frilling was absent from the competition, as she traveled to Flushing, N.Y., for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The competition consisted of the top 32 singles players in the country. She fell in her round of 16 match against Texas sophomore Aeriel Ellis by a score of 7-5, 6-1.

“I didn’t play bad, but I didn’t play well either,” Frilling said. “I beat Ellis earlier in the season back in October, so I was hoping to come out with the same result. She played well, but I didn’t take the advantages I had in the first set, and then I just couldn’t get a rhythm from then on.”

Frilling will compete in another tournament in France in December. Additionally, Sabacinski and McGaffigan will play in the Sarasota Clay Courts tournament from Nov. 12-14.