May 13, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. – The 20th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team made quick work of its 2011 NCAA Championship first round opponent, downing Fresno State 4-0 at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center to advance into the second round. Freshman Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) clinched the victory with her win at No. 6 singles. The Irish now play Northwestern at noon (CT) Saturday for a bid into the Round of 16 hosted by Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif.
The 4-0 victory for Notre Dame marked the third-straight year that the team opened up the NCAA Tournament with a perfect decision, besting IPFW last season and Illinois-Chicago in 2009. Notre Dame also improves to 17-1 in NCAA Tournament openers, winning each of their last nine.
The Irish jumped ahead 1-0, claiming the doubles point for the 18th time in 26 matches this season. The No. 1 grouping of juniors Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) took care of business in their matchup, defeating the Bulldogs tandem of Laura Pola and Marianne Jodoin, 8-3. It is the 16th straight doubles win for the 15th-ranked Irish pairing and improves their season record to 19-3.
Senior Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) and sophomore Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) then clinched the point, claiming an 8-5 win over Olga Kirpicheva and Melissa McQueen at the No. 2 position. The tandem has now won five consecutive matches of their own to improve their record to 11-6 at No. 2.
The freshman pairing of Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Sabacinski led Abby Hayley and Bianca Modoc, 6-3, when the doubles point was clinched, rendering the match unfinished.
Rafael then increased the Irish lead to 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Modoc at No. 4 singles. She improves to 7-0 on the season since moving to the No. 4 court and in those seven victories has won six of her 14 sets by a 6-0 count.
Kellner pushed the Irish to match point, disposing of McQueen at No. 3, 6-2, 6-1. The freshman, ranked 123rd in the singles rankings, fell behind 2-0 early in the first set before sweeping the next six games to claim the set. With the second set knotted up 1-1, Kellner went on another run, winning the final five games to close out the set and her match. In her last 10 matches, Kellner owns an 8-2 record and is now 19-5 overall in dual matches.
It was another Irish freshman that secured the match victory, as Sabacinski notched a straight-sets win over Hayley (6-4, 6-1) at No. 6 singles. Hayley led midway through the first set (4-3) before Sabacinski reeled off three games in a row to gain the one-set advantage. She never trailed in the second set, cruising to the 6-1 win. Sabacinski is in the midst of her longest winning streak of the year having now won four consecutive matches.
With the match clinched the remaining three matches were abandoned. At No. 1, Frilling trailed Jodoin, 6-7 (6-8), 1-4. McGaffigan trailed Kirpicheva at No. 5 singles (3-6, 5-3), while Mathews led at No. 2 (7-6 (9-7)).
The Irish look to advance to Palo Alto, Calif., with a win over Northwestern on Saturday. The host Wildcats advanced into the second round with a 4-0 victory over IPFW in the second match of the day on Friday.
This will be the second meeting between the two schools this year, with Northwestern winning the regular-season tilt, 4-3. It also will be the first time the two teams have met in the postseason since 2005, when the Wildcats won 4-1. Live stats of the match will again be provided via nusports.com with a full recap of the Irish being posted to und.com shortly upon completion of the round.
NCAA First RoundNotre Dame vs. Fresno State at Evanston, Ill.Notre Dame 4, Fresno State 0
Singles:1: Kristy Frilling (ND) vs. Marianne Jodoin (FS), 6-7 (6), 1-4 unf.2: Shannon Mathews vs. Laura Pola (FS), 7-6 (7), unf.3: Jennifer Kellner (ND) def. Melissa McQueen (FS), 6-2, 6-14: Kristen Rafael (ND) def. Bianca Modoc (FS), 6-0, 6-15: Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) vs. Olga Kirpicheva (FS), 3-6, 5-3, unf.6: Julie Sabacinski (ND) def. Abby Hayley (FS), 6-4, 6-1
Doubles:1: Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews (ND) def. Laura Pola/Marianne Jodoin (FS), 8-32: Chrissie McGaffigan/Kristen Rafael (ND) def. Olga Kirpicheva/Melissa McQueen (FS), 8-53: Jennifer Kellner/Julie Sabacinski (ND) vs. Abby Hayley/Bianca Modoc (FS), 6-3, unf.
Order of Finish:Singles (4, 3, 6*)Doubles (1, 2*)