Feb. 20, 2008
|Match Details:||#15 Notre Dame (6-4) vs. #8 Duke (3-0)
Thursday, February 21, 5:00 (ET)
Sheffield Tennis Center, Durham, NC
#15 Notre Dame (6-4) vs. #19 Wake Forest (2-1)
#15 Notre Dame (6-4) vs. #5 North Carolina (6-3)
Irish Win Three Matches at the Eck Over the Weekend: The Notre Dame women’s tennis team will look to extend its season-long three match winning streak when it travels to ACC country this weekend for three matches against perennial ACC powers Duke, Wake Forest, and North Carolina. The #15 Irish are coming off a dominant home weekend where they earned 18 of a possible 21 points in three matches. They defeated #47 Ohio State (5-2), #74 Wisconsin (7-0), and avenged a loss to #31 South Florida in last year’s Big East final by earning a 6-1 decision over the Bulls Sunday. Notre Dame captured the doubles point in every match, posting an 8-1 doubles record over the weekend with the only loss coming in a tie-breaker. Other bright spots for the Irish included junior Kelcy Tefft who moved into the No. 1 singles spot and posted two victories. Tefft has a 9-1 record in singles dual play, tied with Kali Krisik for the best singles record on the team.
Notre Dame has had success recently against this weekend’s opponents. The Irish are 7-0 against this weekend’s foes over the last two seasons, including two victories on this road trip in 2006. The Irish should be familiar with each of this weekend’s opponents as they have played all three schools every season since 2000.
Scouting the Blue Devils: Duke has posted three wins over ranked foes this season including an impressive 4-3 win over 6th-ranked Florida Friday in Durham, NC with sophomore Elizabeth Plotkin winning the deciding match in three sets. A bright spot this season for the Blue Devils has been the play of Ellah Nze. The freshman, who is currently ranked 16th in the country, is 16-3 in her young career including a 10-3 this fall. Nze was 7-3 against ranked opponents including victories over the sixth and third ranked singles players at the time. The Blue Devils will start three players with singles rankings Thursday including Nze and Plotkin (#38) along with #13 Reka Zslinszka. Duke also has a top ten doubles teaam in Amanda Granson and Melissa Mang who are ranked 6th.
Series against Duke: The Blue Devils have dominated the all-time series winning 12 of 14 meetings. The Irish, however, have won the last two, last year in a 4-3 decision in San Diego, CA and in 2006 by the same score in Orlando, FL. The two teams have met a total of five times on neutral courts including twice in Hawaii in 2000 and 2004. Thursday’s match will be Notre Dame’s first trip to Durham since 2002, when they fell 6-1. Notre Dame has never won on Duke’s home court, going 0-4 all time.
Scouting the Demon Deacons: Wake Forest opened its season with a 4-2 setback at #15 William & Mary, but has since rebounded with a convincing home win against Penn State and a recent 4-3 home triumph over Tennessee. Freshman Katarina Reveche clinched the win over the Lady Vols with a win in a third set tiebreak at No. 6. 2007 team MVP Sasha Kulikova leads Wake Forest in singles wins this year with 14. The sophomore is 3-0 in dual play this season with all three wins coming at the No. 2 position. Alex Hirsch is the only singles player to be ranked for Wake Forest this season (#75 in last week’s rankings). The junior has struggled early in the dual season, posting only one win in three tries. Hirsch and Kulikova, ranked 28th nationally, teamed up to take down Tennessee’s second-ranked team of Whorisky and Zubor 8-6 in the Demon Deacons’ recent win.
Series against Wake Forest: Notre Dame and Wake Forest have split 18 previous meetings, with Notre Dame winning the last three, including a 7-0 home victory last season. The last Wake Forest win was also by a 7-0 score in 2004 in Winston-Salem. This match will mark the 16th consecutive year the Irish and Demon Deacons have played in women’s tennis.
Scouting the Tar Heels: North Carolina is in its toughest part of the schedule as it has faced a top ten team in each of its last four matches, going 2-2. The Heels defeated #2 UCLA 4-3 and #8 USC by the same margin in the opening matches at the ITA Indoor Championships. Carolina was defeated 4-0 by #3 Northwestern in the semifinals of that tournament, and dropped a 6-1 decision to #6 Florida Sunday in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels will look to avenge their loss to the Wildcats when they taken on Northwestern Friday before facing the Irish Sunday. Carolina coach and Notre Dame alumnus Brian Kalbas will start two ranked singles players in his lineup Sunday. Sophomore Sanaz Marand is ranked 12th nationally and leads North Carolina with a 20-4 singles record including an 8-0 mark in spring duals. Junior Austin Smith enters the weekend ranked 76th with a 12-11 record, 4-4 in spring duals. Marand and partner Sophie Grabinski are also ranked 7th in doubles.
Series against North Carolina: The Irish and Tar Heels should be very familiar with each other as the teams have met every season since 2000, including twice last year. The Irish won both of the 2007 contests, winning a 5-2 home match February 16th and ousting the Tar Heels in the round of 16 of last year’s NCAA tournament in Athens, GA by a 4-3 score. Christian Thompson earned the clinching point in a three set decision over Katrina Tsang. The win was the last in Thompson’s career. The Irish lead the all time series 7-6 and have won the last three matches. Notre Dame is 4-2 all time at Chapel Hill.
Injury Report: Senior captain Brook Buck rolled her ankle and was forced to retire in Thursday’s match against Ohio State’s Paloma Escobedo. The injury forced her out of Friday’s win over Wisconsin. Buck was back in the lineup for Sunday’s triumph over South Florida and posted a 6-3, 6-0 win over Jessica Zok. She is expected to play in all three matches this weekend.
Rankings Update: The Irish are well represented in the individual rankings released Wednesday. Three of Notre Dame’s doubles teams enter the weekend ranked. Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft are ranked third. Colleen Rielley is ranked with two partners, #45 with Cosmina Ciobanu and #50 with Kali Krisik. Tefft owns the team’s only singles ranking at #59.