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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish prepare to face local rival Wildcats

Megan Finneran | Thursday, April 7, 2011

The No. 20 Irish take the court earlier than usual this week, traveling to the Combe Indoor Tennis Center in Evanston, Ill. to face No. 16 Northwestern in a midweek match.

Notre Dame (11-8) is coming off a two-match winning streak as it heads into the contest, as the team defeated Texas A&M 6-1 last Saturday and Long Beach State 5-2 on Friday.

Contributing largely to the two wins was junior Shannon Mathews, who was named Big East Player of the Week for the first time in her career Wednesday. She added wins in both singles and doubles in the two matches against Long Beach State and Texas A&M. She now stands at 14-2 at the No. 2 singles position, and the pair of junior Kristy Frilling and Mathews ranks 22nd in the country with a record of 15-3 in doubles play.

Frilling, Mathews and freshman Jennifer Kellner hold nationally ranked positions at 3rd, 63rd and 105th, respectively. The three have helped lead the team on the singles front, while the junior doubles pair has added win to the doubles side of competition in the past twelve matches.

The close location has pinned the two teams against each other multiple times in the past. While the Irish hold the latest victory, a 5-2 win on Feb. 21, 2010, the Wildcats (11-5) lead the series 24-11. Today, the Irish hope to change that.

“As a team we definitely need to play smart and compete hard, especially against Northwestern because we have such a rivalry with them,” Frilling said. “I think we did that well last weekend, and as we get closer to finishing the regular season, it’s important for us to keep that drive up.”

Notre Dame must carry a strong force of momentum as they face Northwestern, who holds a 7-1 record at home and brings a six-match winning streak to the match after recently taking down Wisconsin (7-0), Ohio State (5-2) and Penn State (7-0). Of those three, the Irish have only faced Wisconsin this season, as they beat the Badgers (6-1) on Feb. 13.

The Wildcats bring four nationally ranked singles players to the table, including senior Maria Mosolova, who is ranked 16th in the country. Mosolova is a three-time All-American with 13 straight wins in singles play and was named this week’s Big Ten Player of the Week.

Facing Mathews and Frilling at the No. 1 doubles spot will be the pair of sophomore Linda Abu Mushrefova and freshman Nida Hamilton, who rank seventh as a pair nationally with a 12-3 record over the season.

Mosolova certainly brings a threat, but is still a force that can be reckoned with. Frilling defeated her in the tour season in the semifinals of the USTA/ITA Midwest Championships 6-4, 6-2.

“I’ve played Maria a lot, so I know what to expect. It’s going to be a good match nonetheless,” Frilling said.

Including today’s contest against the Wildcats, the Irish have only three matches left before the NCAA championships begin. Play in Evanston begins at 4 p.m.