Jennifer Kellner was a bright spot for the Irish on a tough day on the courts, capturing her ninth-straight dual win of the season against USF, defeating Janette Bejlkova at No. 3 singles, 1-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-4).

Irish Drop Opening Conference Matchup Against USF, 5-2

March 15, 2011

TAMPA, Fla. – The 17th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team dropped its second consecutive match, falling in the first conference battle of the season to USF, 5-2, Tuesday afternoon at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts. The Irish now find themselves at 8-6 on the dual season.

The day started out positive for the Irish, as they were able to jump out to a 1-0 advantage after capturing the doubles point. However, the Bulls went on a tear during singles action, winning the first five matches contested to claim the overall victory.

In doubles, the freshman pairing of Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) disposed of Kate Parker and Alessandra Bonte at No. 3 doubles, 8-4, to stake the Irish to the first doubles decision. The win brings the Irish tandems record to 4-4 on the dual season since the two became a team.

The No. 1 Irish pairing then closed out the doubles point, as the 26th-ranked duo Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) took down 42nd ranked Janette Bejlkova and Loreto Alonso Martinez, 8-6. The win for Frilling and Mathews is their eighth consecutive victory and improves the duo to 11-3 on the dual season.

Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) and Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) lost the final match at No. 2 doubles, 8-7 (7-2), to the Bulls’ duo of Irene Rehberger and Ecaterina Vasenina.

Singles play got underway with 32nd-ranked Mathews falling to 43rd-ranked Rehberger at No. 1 singles, 6-2, 6-0. The match marked the first time in Mathews’ career that she has played that high in the rotation.

JoHanna Manningham (Mishawaka, Ind.) entered the singles lineup at the No. 6 position, falling to Parker in straight sets, 6-0, 6-4, to move the count to 2-1 in favor of USF.

McGaffigan and Rafael then fell to Alonso Martinez and Vasenina at No. 4 and 2 singles, respectively, to clinch the match for the Bulls. McGaffigan succumbed 6-1, 6-2, while Rafael fell 6-1, 6-3 in her first career match at the No. 2 position.

With the match in hand, the final two matches saw Sabacinski drop her match at No. 5 singles to Bonte, 6-4, 6-4, to move the score to 5-1, before Kellner earned her ninth straight dual win over #76 Bejlkova at No. 3 singles, 1-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-4).

The Irish have the day off on Wednesday before returning to action against fourth-ranked Duke on Thursday at Noon (ET) at the USF Varsity Tennis Center. Be sure to check back with for a complete recap of the second of three spring break matches for the Irish.

USF 5, Notre Dame 2March 15, 2011USF Varsity Courts
Singles1. No. 43 Irene Rehberger (USF) def. No. 32 Shannon Matthews (ND), 6-2, 6-02. No. 106 Ecaterina Vasenina (USF) def. No. 95 Kristen Rafael (ND), 6-1, 6-33. No. 112 Jennifer Kellner (ND) def. No. 76 Janette Bejlkova (USF), 1-6, 7-5, 10-44. Loreto Alonso Martinez (USF) def. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND), 6-1, 6-25. Alessandra Bonte (USF) def. Julie Sabacinski (ND), 6-4, 6-46. Kate Parker (USF) def. JoHanna Manningham (ND), 6-0, 6-4
Doubles1. No. 26 Kristy Frilling/Matthews (ND) def. No. 42 Bejlkova/Martinez (USF), 8-62. Rehberger/Vasenina (USF) def. McGaffigan/Rafael (ND), 8-7 (7-2)3. Kellner/Sabacinski (ND) def. Parker/Bonte (USF), 8-4
Match Notes:USF 5-8; National ranking #42Notre Dame 8-6; National ranking #17Order of Finish: Doubles (3, 1, 2); Singles (1, 6, 4, 2, 5, 3)