April 19, 2008
The Notre Dame women’s tennis team advanced to the Big East Championship match with a 5-0 win over DePaul Saturday morning in Tampa. The top seeded and 17th ranked Irish (20-8) shutout the fifth-seeded Blue Demons for the second time in eight days to secure a berth in the championship. The Irish have advanced to every final since joining the league in 1996 and will square off with host South Florida Sunday morning for the title. The team also clinched their third straight twenty-win season, a feat the Irish have not accomplished since they had four 20 plus-win years from 1998-2001.
After dominating doubles play for the second straight day, the Irish kept the momentum on their side as they won four singles matches in straight sets to clinch the win.
84th-ranked Cosmina Ciobanu was dominant for the second straight match against Selma Salkovic, as she won 6-0, 6-2 to earn her 26th win of the season. Ciobanu dropped just three games to Salkovic in last week’s match, and was just as impressive Saturday. The win ran the Irish sophomore’s record to 15-11 this spring including 12-5 at the No. 3 position.
Kali Krisik earned her first singles win of the tournament with a 6-2, 6-1 rout of Kirsten Gambrell. The Irish sophomore earned her 32nd victory of the season, good for the team lead. She also has the most dual wins of any Irish player with 23.
Katie Potts also earned her initial win of the weekend, a straight set win over Anja Mihaldinec at No. 6. Potts won for the eighth time in nine matches, with seven of those victories coming in straight sets. The Notre Dame junior has now won seven of eight matches played at the No. 6 position and is 21-9 on the year.
Brook Buck earned the final Irish win of the day at No. 2 with a decisive 6-4, 6-2 win over Gergana Ganeva. The Notre Dame captain has won twelve of thirteen decisions and won for the second time in as many matches this season against Ganeva. Buck’s current six match winning streak matches her longest streak of the season and has improved her overall record to 19-15.
Kelcy Tefft was one game away from closing out Dunja Antunovic as she lead 6-4, 5-3 at the time the match was decided. Meanwhile, Colleen Rielley fell behind by a set and trailed 6-5 in the second against Katarina Milinkovic but avoided the loss as the match was not completed.
Notre Dame won the doubles point for the fifteenth match in a row with two easy wins at the top doubles positions. The nation’s top-ranked team of Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft shutout their opponent for the third match in a row, as they earned the 8-0 decision over Beatrix Csordas and Salkovic. The DePaul pair is the last team to even earn a game against Notre Dame’s top team as they fell to Buck and Tefft 8-4 eight days ago. Buck and Tefft continued their remarkable season as they ran their record to 34-5 and matched their win total from last season. They are now just two wins away from equaling the school record for most doubles wins by a team in a season.
Rielley and Ciobanu exacted revenge over Gambrell and Antunovic as they dominated the Blue Demon pair 8-1. The DePaul team defeated the Irish sophomores in the regular season meeting by an 8-3 count and are one of only two teams to defeat the pair all year and the only one to notch a win over the Notre Dame duo in 13 matches. Rielley and Ciobanu are now 19-2 on the season and have the best winning percentage on the team.
Krisik and Kristen Rafael were knotted at five games apiece in their match against Ganeva and Mihaldenic when the point was decided.
Tomorrow’s final will be the third straight meeting between the Irish and Bulls in the Big East championship. The two schools have met in every final since South Florida joined the Big East, splitting the two previous title matches. The Irish captured the championship 4-1 in 2006, but the Bulls pulled a stunning upset over the then-second ranked Notre Dame 4-3 in last year’s match. Notre Dame defeated South Florida 6-1 in the teams’ 2008 meeting on February 17th in South Bend. First serve for the title match is set for 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning.