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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish ready to bounce back from difficult matches

Katie Heit | Friday, February 25, 2011

The No. 19 Irish face off this weekend against an array of excellent teams at the Blue-Gray Tournament in Montgomery, Ala.

Coming off tough losses to Michigan and Vanderbilt and a win last weekend over Wisconsin, the team is ready to rise in the national rankings.

The Irish enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed in the eight-team field behind top-seeded Virginia. They will begin the tournament with a match against Utah Friday. The Utes enter the tournament with just two losses after a four-match winning streak.

“There are a lot of good teams here this weekend,” freshman Julie Sabacinski said. “I think we are going to just take one match at a time.”

Junior Kristy Frilling, who was recently named the No. 3 singles player nationally, will lead the team this weekend, along with doubles partner Shannon Mathews, who is ranked 43rd. Together, they make up the No. 57 doubles team in the country. Additionally, freshman Jennifer Kellner is ranked just outside the top 100 singles players.

“The hardest part will be the heat and playing outdoors,” Sabacinski said. “None of us have played outside since we got back from break, so it will be an adjustment.”

The last time the Irish faced Utah in tournament play was two years ago, when they won 7-0. In that match, Frilling, then a freshman, dominated in both singles and doubles. Utah leads the all-time series with Notre Dame 2-1.

Utah has only one player ranked in the top 60, but look to hold its own against the Irish. Other teams making appearances this weekend include Oklahoma, Ohio State, DePaul and Auburn.

The Irish kick off the tournament Friday at noon against Utah.