April 30, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 23rd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s team punched its ticket to the BIG EAST Championship title match with a 4-0 victory over Marquette on Saturday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The victory is the second in less than two weeks against the Golden Eagles.
Since the tournament expanded to include quarterfinal matches in 2006, the Irish have not dropped a point in any of their quarterfinal or semifinal contests, winning by a combined 42-0 margin over that span. Over the course of the team’s three-year conference title streak, the Irish also have posted a 12-3 margin in the championship matches, with DePaul coming the closest in a 4-2 loss in ’09.
After the morning matches were played outdoors, the Irish moved indoors for their semifinal contest with rain and wind projected to pick up around the start of the match. The other semifinal contest between DePaul and USF also moved indoors. With both matches moving inside the Eck and only six courts to play on, the singles format was slightly altered. Each team sent out its top three singles matches, with fourth through sixth singles stepping on court, respectively, as each of the top three matches concluded.
After dropping the doubles point to Marquette in their prior matchup, the Irish made sure to avoid the same fate this time around. The freshman duo of Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) ended first, coming back to defeat Gillian Hush and Chelsea Utting, 9-7, at No. 3 doubles. The Irish trailed in the match 7-6 before Kellner and Sabacinski reeled off three consecutive games to claim the victory. The pairing is now on a three-match winning streak and is 8-9 on the season.
For the second straight match, senior Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) and sophomore Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) clinched the doubles point. The tandem took down Rocio Diaz and Olga Fisher (8-6) at No. 2 doubles for their ninth dual win at that position.
Juniors Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) led Rachael Hush and Christina Ruiz 7-5 at No. 1 doubles before the match was abandoned. The pairing has now gone two straight matches without a result and maintains their 18-3 record at the top court.
Notre Dame then made quick work of singles competition, winning each of the first three matches to clinch the victory. Frilling, ranked fourth in the ITA polls, dispatched Fisher 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles for her 18th dual win of the year.
Kellner was next to finish, taking down Rachael Hush at No. 3, 6-1, 6-0. The 112th-ranked Irish freshman dropped the opening game of the match before going on to reel off each of the final 12 games. She also earned her 18th dual win of the year and is now 7-2 at the No. 3 court.
Mathews, for the second consecutive match, earned the clincher for the Irish. After cruising through the first set 6-0, the junior was tested by Paola Calderon in the second set before Mathews broke serve and held to close out the set and the match, 6-4. The 58th-ranked player in the ITA polls, Mathews made it three Irish players to earn their 18th dual win, with all of her victories coming at No. 2.
The remaining three matches did not begin play with the decision already in hand. The scheduled matches would have seen Rafael take on Gillian Hush at No. 4, McGaffigan play Ruiz at No. 5 and Sabacinski square off with Utting at No. 6.
The Irish now await USF in the 2011 BIG EAST Championship title match. USF advanced with a 4-0 victory over DePaul. The two teams met once earlier in the year, with the Bulls earning a 5-2 victory over Notre Dame at Tampa, Fla. In that contest, Notre Dame captured the doubles point but lost five of the six singles contests, without Frilling in the lineup, to lose the match.
With the potential for rain to be an issue for Sunday’s final, there are two potential times for the contest. If the weather holds off in the morning the two teams will begin play at 9:00 a.m. (ET) outdoors at the Courtney Tennis Center. However, if inclement weather is in the area the squads will play at approximately noon (ET) inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion following the men’s championship match.
For updated tournament brackets be sure to visit the BIG EAST Tournament Central page at www.bigeast.com. Be sure to check back with und.com for a complete recap of the match as the Irish look to capture their fourth straight conference championship.
Marquette vs. Notre DameApril 30, 2011 at Eck Tennis Pavilion#23 Notre Dame 4, Marquette 0
Singles competition1. #4 Kristy Frilling (ND) def. Olga Fisher (MAR) 6-1, 6-12. #58 Shannon Mathews (ND) def. Paola Calderon (MAR) 6-0, 6-43. #112 Jennifer Kellner (ND) def. Rachael Hush (MAR) 6-1, 6-04. Gillian Hush (MAR) vs. Kristen Rafael (ND) no result5. Christina Ruiz (MAR) vs. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) no result6. Chelsea Utting (MAR) vs. Julie Sabacinski (ND) no result
Doubles competition1. #13 Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews (ND) vs. Rachael Hush/Christina Ruiz (MAR) 7-5, unfinished2. Kristen Rafael/Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) def. Rocio Diaz/Olga Fisher (MAR) 8-63. Jennifer Kellner/Julie Sabacinski (ND) def. Gillian Hush/Chelsea Utting (MAR) 9-7
Match Notes:Marquette 19-10Notre Dame 15-9; National ranking #23Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (1,3,2)^ - Singles were played split, so courts 1,2,3 played until finish before 4,5,6