March 14, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After a nine-day break from action, the 15th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team is set to return to the courts on Tuesday in the first of three matches over spring break at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts in Tampa, Fla. The Irish tangle with USF at 11:00 a.m. (ET) on Tuesday to open up the week’s matches.
Notre Dame enters with an overall record of 8-5 on the dual season after most recently falling to ninth-ranked Baylor, 4-3, on March 6. The Irish had been carrying the momentum of a five-match winning streak into that showdown with the Bears.
Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) continues to set the bar for the Irish at the top of the singles lineup, holding a perfect 12-0 record at the No. 1 court. She currently ranks third in the nation in singles and is 13-2 overall against nationally-ranked foes. Three other Irish racqueteers also enter this week’s matches ranked, as Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) places 32nd, Kristen Rafael Grand Prairie, Texas) ranks 95th and Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) claims 112th.
In doubles, the No. 1 Irish pairing of Frilling and Mathews has enjoyed a steady climb up the rankings, coming into the matches ranked 26th nationally. The duo has put together a 10-3 record at No. 1 doubles and is currently riding a seven-match winning streak, with three of those coming against ranked tandems.
The trip gets underway with a conference showdown with BIG EAST foe USF. The Bulls, ranked 42nd in the team standings, bring a 4-8 record into the week, with the wins coming against Illinois (4-3), UCF (6-1), Florida State (5-2) and Marquette (7-0). Irene Rehberger leads the singles lineup, ranking 43rd in the nation, while the tandem of Janette Bejikova and Loreta Alonso Martinez pace the doubles groupings, entering play ranked 42nd.
Overall, the Irish carry a 5-1 advantage in the series against USF and have won each of the last four matchups. Last season Notre Dame blanked the Bulls, 7-0, at home in a match that saw the sixth-ranked Irish defeat 19th-ranked USF.
Duke awaits the Irish next, as the two teams are set to square off at Noon (ET) on Thursday. The Blue Devils, ranked fifth overall, have a 12-2 record on the season and are in the midst of a four-match winning streak. Only one team so far this season, top-ranked Florida, has been able to best Duke, beating the Blue Devils on two separate occasions.
Reka Zsilinszka and Nadine Fahoum lead the Blue Devils in singles, as they enter play ranked ninth and 39th, respectively. In total, Duke has six girls ranked in the singles rankings, with none ranked lower than 74th. Two doubles pairings find themselves ranked, led by Ellah Nze and Fahoum who are 13th nationally.
The Irish trail the overall series with Duke, 14-3, but have enjoyed a slight advantage in the last five meetings, going 3-2 against the Blue Devils. In the last matchup between the two teams, Duke prevailed 5-2 in a neutral court match in Puerto Rico.
The week concludes for the Irish with a showdown against Tennessee at 10:00 a.m. (ET) on Saturday. The Volunteers, ranked 21st, currently own a record of 8-3 on the year and have won each of their last two matchups, against Auburn and Kentucky, 6-1. Brynn Boren leads the singles charge, ranked 31st in the current polls. In doubles, Rosalia Alda and Millie Nichols are the top ranked tandem, sitting at 15th.
The Irish and Volunteers have met 21 times in program history, with Tennessee holding an 11-10 edge in the series. In the last five meetings, however, Notre Dame has posted a perfect 5-0 record including going 2-0 last season and ending the Volunteers’ season with a 4-2 victory in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
Be sure to check back with und.com for a complete recap of each of the three matches.