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ND Women’s Tennis: Three matches present chance to bounce back

Megan Finneran | Thursday, February 10, 2011

With two losses behind them, the No. 13 Irish (3-2) want nothing more than a solid performance this weekend, when Michigan, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin travel to the Eck Center to face off against Notre Dame over the course of four days.

“They are all tough teams, but if we compete the way we are capable I know we can do well in all of the upcoming matches,” freshman Jennifer Kellner said.

Kellner’s contributions last weekend included a win in both singles and doubles play against Wake Forest. At the No. 5 singles position, she has stood out among a determined freshman class that has improved throughout the season.

“I’ve been working on a lot of small things the coaches have been telling me, but they certainly make a big difference,” Kellner said. “Things like stepping into the ball more and working on my serving toss have been a few of several things.”

In the singles competition, juniors Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews still remain the driving force behind the Irish. They are both undefeated in singles play and stand as a threat together in doubles. Despite a doubles loss by the pair last weekend against North Carolina, this weekend brings an opportunity to secure three wins.

“Learning from our losses is the most important thing to help us succeed in future matches,” Frilling said.

Supporting the juniors at the top of the singles rotation is crucial for Notre Dame, and a surprise at the bottom of the singles lineup has been freshman Julie Sabacinski. Sabacinski won the first match-clinching victory of her career against Wake Forest Sunday. Positioned at No. 6 singles with a 3-2 record, she has recently come into her own as a member of the Irish.

“Playing more matches makes my game more refined, and I have finally adjusted to college tennis,” Sabacinski said. “[This weekend] I am going to focus on bringing high energy to each match.”

Seeded at No. 8, Michigan (4-0) poses the most imminent threat to the Irish. This marks the second straight season the Wolverines have begun with a 4-0 record.

No. 18 Vanderbilt (4-1) will take on the Irish at 11 a.m. Saturday. On Sunday at 11 a.m., Notre Dame will stand as the first ranked opponent the No. 74 Badgers (4-1) have faced this season.