Senior Brook Buck will play in her final home matches this weekend.

#20 Irish Host Three Midwest Rivals Including #1 Northwestern To Close Regular Season

April 8, 2008

Match Details: #20 Notre Dame (16-7) vs. #1 Northwestern (19-1)        Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 3:30 p.m.        Courtney Tennis Center, Notre Dame, IN
#20 Notre Dame vs. #59 DePaul (16-4, 5-0 Big East) Friday, April 11, 2008, 3:00 p.m. Courtney Tennis Center, Notre Dame, IN
#20 Notre Dame vs. Marquette (11-11, 6-1 Big East) Sunday, April 13, 2008, 10:00 a.m. Courtney Tennis Center, Notre Dame, IN

Irish complete perfect week: With wins over Purdue (7-0), Iowa (6-1), and Syracuse (6-1), Notre Dame extended its winning streak to nine matches. The Irish swept the doubles point in all three matches last week and did not play a set closer than 8-4. Notre Dame was equally impressive in singles play winning 34 of 37 sets played. Cosmina Ciobanu, Kali Krisik, Katie Potts, and Colleen Rielley each posted three singles wins last week. Krisik and Rielley also teamed up to win three doubles contests.

Active Streaks: Rielley and Ciobanu have won nine consecutive doubles matches and sixteen of seventeen this season… Potts and Krisik have the longest active singles win streaks on the team, each winning their last five outings….Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft have won thirteen of their last 14 doubles matches…. Krisik became the first member of the team to record twenty dual singles wins this year with a win Sunday against Syracuse…. Notre Dame has won the doubles point in ten consecutive matches… The Irish are in the midst of their longest home stand of the season, four matches in eight days to conclude the regular season.

Buck in the Record Books: With five wins last week (two singles, three doubles), senior Brook Buck moved into sixth on the all-time Notre Dame wins list. A 14-15 singles mark and a 32-6 doubles mark this season gives the Irish captain a combined record of 198-74 moving her ahead of Becky Varnum (1999-2002) on the all-time list. Buck needs four wins this week take over fifth place from Lindsey Green (1999-2002). With 120 career doubles wins, Buck is already the school record holder for career doubles wins.

Irish vs. #1: Notre Dame has faced a #1 ranked team seven times in school history and has fallen each time. The last time the Irish challenged a top-ranked squad was in 2003 when Notre Dame fell to Duke 5-2. That Blue Devil squad is the only #1 team to play at Notre Dame before this week’s match with Northwestern. Here’s the list of all matches Notre Dame has played against a #1 team:

Date        ND ranking  #1 Team           Location           Score4/2/94      13      Georgia             Away            L, 1-62/24/95     15      Georgia             Nat'l Indoors       L, 0-62/22/96     16      Florida         Nat'l Indoors       L, 0-83/11/98     18      Florida         Las Vegas       L, 2-72/18/99     16      Florida         Nat'l Indoors       L, 2-72/18/00     17      Stanford        Nat'l Indoors       L, 2-52/21/03     19      Duke            Home            L, 2-5

Scouting the Wildcats: Northwestern has proven to be a perennial top ten team in women’s tennis under the direction of coach Claire Pollard and this year is no different. The Wildcats have won nineteen of their first twenty matches including an impressive 6-1 win at Georgia Tech. The lone Wildcat loss came at the hands of the Yellow Jackets less than a week later in the final of the National Indoor Championships by a 4-2 score. Nine of Northwestern’s wins this season have come by shutout and the Wildcats are a perfect 7-0 this year in the Big Ten.

Northwestern boasts four ranked singles players including two in the top five. Freshman Maria Masolova is ranked #3 thanks to a 33-7 singles mark this season. The rookie won the consolation bracket of the ITA National Indoor Championships last fall, defeating teammate Georgia Rose in the consolation final. Rose is currently ranked 5th in the nation and took the ITA Midwest Regional Title last fall over teammate Samantha Murray (currently ranked 25th). In the process, Rose downed three Notre Dame players, Tefft, Ciobanu, and Krisik on her way to the finals with all victories coming in straight sets.

Lauren Lui is the doubles specialist for the Wildcats as she is ranked 13th with Murray and 14th with Rose. Lui and Rose had a nine match winning streak snapped with a loss to Indiana over the weekend. Overall, Lui has a 33-7 doubles mark on the year. As a team the Wildcats have lost the doubles point just three times including the second match against Georgia Tech, their lone defeat of the season.

Series Against Northwestern: The Wildcats are only one of ten schools to have a winning record all time against Notre Dame (minimum five matches played). Northwestern holds a 21-10 lead in the all-time series, but the Irish have won two of the last three meetings. Notre Dame and Northwestern are used to playing high profile matches as both teams have been ranked in the top ten each of the last three meetings. The Irish upended Northwestern 4-3 at home in 2006, snapping a seven match losing streak to the Wildcats. Northwestern returned the favor last season in Evanston, upsetting #4 Notre Dame by the same 4-3 score. The two schools also met in the National Indoor Championships in 2007 with the Irish taking the 4-3 win.

The Irish and Wildcats have met three times in NCAA tournament play with Northwestern taking both matches that were played in Evanston (a 4-1 win in 2004, and a 4-0 victory in 2005). Notre Dame defeated Northwestern in the 1998 tournament, 6-2, in a match played in Champaign, IL.

Scouting the Blue Demons: DePaul is having one its best seasons in recent memory and has won seven matches in a row. The Blue Demons are undefeated at home this season, but have struggled at times away from Chicago. All of DePaul’s losses have come on the road against nationally-ranked teams: (Denver 6-1, Illinois 6-1, Iowa 4-3, and Indiana 5-2). DePaul’s most impressive win was a 4-3 victory at #38 Colorado in January. DePaul has been able to capitalize on its opponent’s lack of depth this season, as the Blue Demons own a 46-13 combined record this year at the bottom three singles positions.

Dunja Antunovic plays No. 1 singles for DePaul where she is 18-13 on the year including 10-7 in dual play. She has paired with Kirsten Gambrell to win 15 of 19 matches in doubles this season including 11 of 12 dual contests.

Series Against DePaul: The Blue Demons have never defeated the Irish in ten all time meetings. Notre Dame has won those matches by a combined score of 77-4. The schools have met three times in the last two seasons with Notre Dame posting shutout wins in all three contests including a 4-0 win in last season’s Big East Tournament.

Scouting the Golden Eagles: Marquette has rebounded from a 1-7 start to post an even 11-11 record including 6-1 in Big East play. The Golden Eagles have won four matches in a row, all against conference foes.

Rachael Hush is one of only three Marquette players with a singles record over .500, as she leads the team with 15 singles wins. She has posted an 11-6 mark in dual play this season. Erin Watkins plays the No. 1 position for the Golden Eagles, but has mustered just a 5-17 mark this season. Watkins has, however posted four wins in her last ten outings. Watkins and Rush have teamed up to post the best doubles record on the team with a 9-6 mark. As a team, Marquette is 37-24 in doubles this season.

Series Against Marquette: The Irish have won ten of eleven meetings all time against the Golden Eagles including each of the last six. The lone Marquette win was a 5-4 triumph in Milwaukee in the 1989 season, the year before Jay Louderback became Notre Dame’s coach.

Rankings Update: Notre Dame is currently ranked #20 in the ITA rankings. The Irish have two ranked singles players (Tefft at #41 and Ciobanu at #122). Tefft and Buck remain the nation’s top-ranked doubles team.