Shannon Mathews was one of four Irish players to post both a doubles and singles win on day one of the Midwest Blast

Irish Post Successful Opening Day At Midwest Blast

Nov. 5, 2010

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team posted eight wins on the opening day of competition Friday at the Midwest Blast, hosted by the University of Illinois at the Atkins Tennis Center. Meanwhile, Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) lost her Round of 16 matchup at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

The Irish got their day underway in doubles action against the Memphis Tigers. JoHanna Manningham (Mishawaka, Ind.) and Britney Sanders (Ontario, Calif.) posted the most convincing victory of the session, closing out Andrea Arques-Garcia and Sarah Witkowski, 8-3.

Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) and Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) also posted a convincing victory, dispatching the Tigers’ team of Courtney Collins and Stefanie Mikesz, 8-4. Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) made it three-for-three, as the Irish duo held on for an 8-5 decision over Kelly Gray and Kathleen Hawkins.

The format changed to singles in the afternoon, with the Irish taking on the host Illini. Notre Dame dominated the session, taking five of the six matches. Mathews notched the first win of the day, posting a 6-1, 6-2 win over Rachael White at No. 1 singles.

Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) made her first appearance on the day in singles action, dispatching the Illini’s Breanne Smurko in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.

In one of the more entertaining matches of the session, Sanders pulled out a three-set win over Amy Allin, recovering to take the third set after dropping the second set in a grueling tie-breaker, 6-7 (12-14). Sanders used bookend set wins to capture the match, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3.

McGaffigan made it four-for-four after knocking off Illinois’ Chelcie Abajian. The Irish sophomore found herself down one set to love after losing the opener 6-7 (5-7), but battled back to win the following two sets (6-4, 6-3) to secure the victory.

Much like McGaffigan, Sabacinski fell in the opening set to Allison Ealkin 4-6, but recovered to win the closing two sets (6-3, 6-2) to mark the eighth win of the day for the Irish.

Manningham suffered the lone loss on day one of the Midwest Blast, falling to Misia Kedzierski in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.

At the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, Frilling battled Aeriel Ellis, an opponent over whom she was victorious earlier in the season, in the Round of 16 contest. After battling toe-to-toe through the first set, Ellis closed out the Irish junior, 7-5. Frilling could not recover, losing the second set, 6-1, and seeing her tournament come to a close.

The Irish take to the courts for day two of the Midwest Blast on Saturday, facing off against Oklahoma in doubles action before meeting up with Memphis for singles play.

Check back with for a complete recap of the days action.

Midwest Blast – Champaign, Ill. – Day One:


#42 Shannon Mathews (ND) def. Rachael White (ILL), 6-1, 6-2

Kristen Rafael (ND) def. Breanne Smutko (ILL), 6-2, 6-1

Britney Sanders (ND) def. Amy Allin (ILL), 6-4, 6-7 (12), 6-3

Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) def. Chelcie Abajian (ILL), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3

Julie Sabacinski (ND) def. Allison Falkin (ILL), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2

Misia Kedzierski (ILL) def. JoHanna Manningham (ND), 6-3, 6-1


Jennifer Kellner/Shannon Mathews (ND) def. Kelly Gray/Kathleen Hawkins (MEM), 8-5

Chrissie McGaffigan/Julie Sabacinski (ND) def. Courtney Collins/Stefanie Mikesz (MEM), 8-4

JoHanna Manningham/Britney Sanders (ND) def. Andrea Arques-Garcia/Sarah Witkowski (MEM), 8-3

USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships – Day Two:

Round of 16:

Aeriel Ellis (UT) def. #3 Kristy Frilling (ND) 7-5, 6-1