Britney Sanders looks to improve on her 13-3 dual record as the Irish tangle with Michigan on Wednesday.

Irish Squander Lead, Fall To North Carolina 4-3

Feb. 18, 2012

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After climbing out to a 3-0 lead in its match against 13th-ranked North Carolina, the 23rd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team was unable to close out the contest, losing a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to the Tar Heels Saturday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Notre Dame (5-3) took the early advantage in the contest, winning two of three doubles matches to claim the 1-0 lead over North Carolina (7-4). Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.), ranked third in the nation, battled for a 9-7 victory over 24th-ranked Lauren McHale and Shinann Featherston at No. 1 doubles. The match went back-and-forth through the entirety, seeing the Irish duo move to a quick 3-0 lead before the Tar Heel pairing reeled off six of the next seven games to sit with a 6-4 advantage. Frilling and Mathews won two of the next three games to shrink the North Carolina advantage to 7-6 before rattling off the final three to close out the first doubles match.

The Tar Heels evened the doubles at one apiece, however, claiming the No. 3 court as Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) fell to Haley Hemm and Tessa Lyons, 8-6. Sophomores Britney Sanders (Ontario, Calif.) and Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.), playing their first doubles match together this season, responded to clinch the point at No. 2 doubles, defeating Zoe De Bruycker and Jennifer Stone, 8-5.

Sanders carried the momentum of her doubles triumph over to singles play, pushing Notre Dame to a 2-0 lead after knocking off 76th-ranked Caroline Price at No. 4 singles, 6-3, 6-4. The victory improved Sanders to 7-1 on the dual season and also marked her first career singles victory over a ranked opponent.

Frilling, playing her fourth straight match at No. 2 singles, then extended the contest to match point after defeating McHale, ranked 22nd in the nation, 6-4, 6-1. The win marked the second-straight triumph for the Irish senior over ranked opposition and also tied her for 20th on the all-time Notre Dame singles wins list with 91 career victories.

The Irish could not sustain the momentum in the final four matches, however, as the Tar Heels claimed each of the remaining courts to escape with the win. Kellner lost a 6-4, 6-4 match to Featherston at No. 3 singles before McGaffigan dropped a 6-4, 6-3 decision to Gina Suarez-Malaguti at No. 5 and Mathews fell 7-5, 7-5 to De Bruycker at No. 1. With the final point up for grabs and having dropped the first set 6-4, Sabacinski rallied to win the second set (6-4) and force a decisive third with Lyons at No. 6 singles. The Tar Heel sophomore recovered to take the third set 6-1 and complete the comeback victory.

Notre Dame faces a quick turnaround as it returns to action against No. 57 Illinois at noon (ET) Sunday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Be sure to check back with for a complete recap as the Irish look to bounce back against the Fighting Illini.

North Carolina vs. Notre DameFeb. 18, 2012 at Notre Dame, Ind.Eck Tennis Pavilion#13 North Carolina 4, #23 Notre Dame 3
Singles competition1. #35 Zoe De Bruycker (UNC) def. #39 Shannon Mathews (ND) 7-5, 7-52. Kristy Frilling (ND) def. #22 Lauren McHale (UNC) 6-4, 6-13. Shinann Featherston (UNC) def. #124 Jennifer Kellner (ND) 6-4, 6-44. Britney Sanders (ND) def. #76 Caroline Price (UNC) 6-3, 6-45. Gina Suarez-Malaguti (UNC) def. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) 6-4, 6-36. Tessa Lyons (UNC) def. Julie Sabacinski (ND) 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Doubles competition1. #3 Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews (ND) def. #24 Lauren McHale/Shinann Featherston (UNC) 9-72. Julie Sabacinski/Britney Sanders (ND) def. Zoe De Bruycker/Jennifer Stone (UNC) 8-53. Haley Hemm/Tessa Lyons (UNC) def. Jennifer Kellner/Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) 8-6
Match Notes:North Carolina 7-4; National ranking #13Notre Dame 5-3; National ranking #23Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (4,2,3,5,1,6)Attendance: 137