TAMPA, Fla. –
For the fifth consecutive season, the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team claimed the BIG EAST Conference Championship, defeating USF, 4-1, Sunday at the Varsity Tennis Courts. Senior Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) secured Most Outstanding Performer for the tournament after going a perfect 3-0 in both singles and doubles at the championship.
The match featured plenty of twists with three separate rain delays forcing halts to the match. After overnight rain pushed the start of the match back to 2 p.m., the Irish took the courts and secured the doubles point to claim the early match lead.
Frilling and fellow senior Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) wrapped up first, taking down Lucie Rey and Ecaterina Vasenina 8-2 at the No. 1 court. After losing the first two games in the match, the Irish duo reeled off eight straight games to close out the match.
Junior Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) and sophomore Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) then clinched the point with an 8-6 victory over Fanny Fracassi and Danielle Mills at the No. 3 court. With the point in hand, the two doubles match between the Irish pairing of sophomores Britney Sanders (Ontario, Calif.) and Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) and the Bulls tandem of Alessondra Bonte and Kate Parker was abandoned with the Irish holding a 7-6 lead in the match.
Shortly after completion of the doubles point, rain showers moved back into the area and forced a near-hour long rain delay before the resumption of singles. Once the courts had dried and play was resumed, Frilling quickly advanced the Irish lead to 2-0 after taking down Loreto Alonso-Martinez at the No. 2 court, 6-1, 6-1.
The Bulls then cut the margin to one as McGaffigan lost a 6-2, 6-3 decision to Paula Montoya at the No. 5 position. The Irish, however, countered at No. 3 and 4 singles with victories to close out the match and claim the conference crown. After Sanders fought back to claim a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Fracassi at No. 3, Kellner clinched the title with her 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Mills at No. 4.
The remaining two singles contests were abandoned with Mathews leading Vasenina at No. 1 (7-6, (7-4), 2-3) and freshman Katherine White (Columbus, Ga.) leading Bonte at No. 6 (4-6, 6-1, 3-1).
With the victory, the Irish earn the conference auto bid into the 2012 NCAA Championship and improve to 12-5 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship finals. Additionally, Notre Dame has now defeated USF each of the last three times the two teams have squared off in the BIG EAST Championship.
The Irish now await their final seeding for the NCAA Championship. The tournament gets underway with first and second round action on May 11-12 at campus sites.
BIG EAST Championship
April 22, 2012 at Varsity Tennis Courts (Tampa, Fla.)
#1 Notre Dame 4, #2 USF 1
1. Shannon Mathews (ND) vs. Ecaterina Vasenina (USF) 7-6 (7-4), 2-3 DNF
2. Kristy Frilling (ND) def. Loreto Alonso-Martinez (USF) 6-1, 6-1
3. Britney Sanders (ND) def. Fanny Fracassi (USF) 7-5, 6-4
4. Jennifer Kellner (ND) def. Danielle Mills (USF) 6-4, 6-2*
5. Paula Montoya (USF) def. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) 6-2, 6-3
6. Katherine White (ND) vs. Alessondra Bonte (USF) 4-6, 6-1, 3-1 DNF
1. Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews (ND) def. Ecaterina Vasenina/Lucie Rey (USF) 8-2
2. Julie Sabacinski/Britney Sanders (ND) vs. Alessondra Bonte/Kate Parker (USF) 7-6 DNF
3. Jennifer Kellner/Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) def. Fanny Fracassi/Danielle Mills (USF) 8-6*
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (2,5,3,4*)