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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish rebound after Tennessee loss

Katie Heit | Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Irish split their two games in Tennessee over the weekend, falling to the Volunteers 6-1 on Friday before gaining momentum and defeating Vanderbilt on Sunday 5-2.

To start off the weekend, the No. 24 Irish faced off against No. 17 Tennessee.

Senior co-captain Shannon Mathews started her second week in the No. 1 singles position and gained the only point for the Irish by defeating the Volunteers’ No. 24 Natalie Pluskota. The rest of the squad was unable to gain any momentum, each falling in only two sets.

“It’s always challenging playing teams at their home with the crowd against us,” sophomore Britney Sanders said.

Senior co-captain Kristy Frilling said that Notre Dame did not play to the best of its ability.

“I think Tennessee is a good team, but I also think the score wasn’t indicative of how we can play,” Frilling said. “The doubles point is always crucial, and I think it’s really important for us to get that first point.”

The Irish took on No. 18 Vanderbilt at their home court to round out the weekend. After a battle that took over five hours, Notre Dame clinched the win 5-2.

Against the Commodores, Notre Dame came out with more energy than in its previous contest and earned the doubles point with victories from partners Mathews and Frilling, as well as the pair of junior Chrissie McGaffigan and sophomore Kellner.

Mathews dropped her singles match in two sets against Vanderbilt’s Jackie Wu. Frilling and Sanders both closed their matches in three sets. Frilling won after three sets of 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, and Sanders dropped her first set 4-6 before coming back and winning the final two 6-4, 6-4.

Kellner and McGaffigan also took their matches to three sets apiece and snatched the final two points for the Irish.

“We all came out much stronger against [Vanderbilt],” Frilling said. “We played much more aggressive and confident, and that really helped us in the end. [Vanderbilt] is a great team and we won all our matches in three sets, and that will really help boost our morale.”

Sanders said an attitude change on behalf of the entire team was key to the win Sunday.

“We realized we didn’t have anything to lose,” Sanders said. “Vanderbilt was ranked higher than us, so we just gave it our all out there. Instead of playing to not lose we played to win.”

The Irish will begin a string of home matches Saturday against North Carolina at 11 a.m.



Contact Katie Heit at [email protected]