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ND Women’s Tennis: Notre Dame remains perfect in Big East with win

Kelsey Manning | Monday, April 2, 2012

The No. 20 Irish continued their Big East shutout streak Saturday, defeating DePaul 7-0.

The Blue Demons (10-6, 1-0 Big East) were Notre Dame’s third conference opponent this season, and all three teams – Cincinnati, Marquette and DePaul – have failed to post a single point against the Irish. Despite the perfect outcome, DePaul was not a team the Irish (14-5, 3-0) took lightly, according to senior captain Shannon Mathews.

“They’re a really good team in the Big East that we always have a duel match against,” Mathews said. “They’re one of our rivals in the Big East, and they always come out and play really well against us, so we know we can’t take them for granted.”

Setting the tone for the match with doubles play remains a staple in Notre Dame’s arsenal, according to Mathews. Saturday marked Notre Dame’s 10th consecutive match in which it claimed the doubles point, another streak that has been integral for the squad’s success of late.

“We did really well taking all three of the doubles matches,” she said. “It was really crucial to come out strong from the get-go. To be able to separate ourselves and win all three was a great boost going into singles.”

Though the No. 1 doubles team of Mathews and senior captain Kristy Frilling recently dropped from No. 1 to No. 5 in the national rankings, Mathews said the pair felt good about its play against the Blue Demons.

“[Frilling and I] came out being really aggressive. We’ve been working on going back to the basics and we mixed up the play really well – being aggressive off the ground from the baseline and [helping] each other out a lot out at the net,” Mathews said. “It’s something we hadn’t done in the past from the get go.

“The first two games of the match we were aggressive at the net and got our opponents really off-balance. Starting off and being really aggressive at net was really crucial. We both served really well, a high percentage of first serves really helped.”

Only five dual matches remain before the Big East championships, including two tough Big East opponents – South Florida and Louisville – along with No. 11 Baylor, No. 15 Northwestern and No. 16 Texas A&M. Mathews said the Irish are ratcheting up their focus these next couple of weeks.

“I think these next [few] matches are going to be really, really crucial, especially for ranking and our confidence looking toward the NCAA tournament,” she said. “We’re taking it one match at a time.

“Northwestern will be our next big challenge. They’re definitely ranked ahead of us so it will be a great opportunity for us to compete well at home. They’re another rival in the Midwest region. We always have really long tough battles with them. [We want to] just go out there and let everything hang out, and just play a little bit freely and go for it.”

The Irish will look to build on their win against Depaul when

they take on Northwestern at home Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Contact Kelsey Manning at [email protected]