March 19, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. – The 17th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team ended its spring break trip on a high note, claiming a 5-2 win over 18th-ranked Tennessee on Saturday at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts. The Irish finish the trip with a 1-2 record and are now 9-7 overall.
“I thought as a team we played really well today,” said Irish head coach Jay Louderback. “It was really important for us to get a win against a top-20 opponent and we responded to that very well. It was a hot day out here today, but we battled through it, including a couple of long three-set matches, to get the win.”
The Irish took the 1-0 lead on the Volunteers, capturing the doubles point for the second time on the trip. After trailing 4-1 at No. 1 doubles, the 33rd-ranked team of Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) went on to win seven of the next eight games to defeat Tennessee’s duo of Natalie Pluskota and Millie Nichols, ranked 59th, 8-5.
Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) and Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) then closed out the doubles point for the Irish, taking down Rosalia Alda and Maria Sorbello at No. 2 doubles in a back-and-forth match, 8-6. The win brings an end to the tandem’s three-match losing streak.
“Winning the doubles point was important to the match,” stated Louderback. “We know that Tennessee always puts together good doubles teams, so for us to get that early lead on them really set the trend for the rest of the match.
“Number one doubles coming back from down 4-1 was huge for us,” continued Louderback. “They fought back and dropped only one more game over the rest of their match and that really swung momentum in our favor.”
Frilling, ranked third nationally, returned to her usual spot atop the Irish singles lineup and wasted little time making a statement. The junior downed #42 Pluskota in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0, to improve her dual record to a perfect 13-0. She has now knocked off four consecutive ranked opponents and is 14-2 overall against ranked foes this season.
At No. 2 singles, Mathews, ranked 38th, brought an end to her three-match losing streak as she took down Alda, 6-4, 6-4. The win moves her record to 12-1 at the No. 2 position and 12-3 overall on the season.
McGaffigan clinched the match for the Irish, returning to the No. 5 position. After dropping the first set, the sophomore recovered to take each of the final two sets against Sorbello to claim the match, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“McGaffigan was the clincher for us today,” remarked Louderback. “The final game of her match was the best I’ve seen her play this year. She hit three winners in the game to close out her opponent at love. That is very important to her and her confidence going forward.”
Rafael battled #36 Brynn Boren to three sets at No. 3 singles, but was unable to hold off her opponent, falling 1-6, 6-4, 6-1.
At No. 4 singles, #107 Kellner returned to her winning ways after dropping her last match, defeating Szekely in three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (13-11). She has won 10 of her last 11 dual matches and is now 5-0 at the No. 4 position.
The final match of the day saw Sabacinski drop a decision to Nichols at No. 6 singles, 7-5, 6-1.
Notre Dame returns to action on Thursday (March 24) when the team heads out to take on 20th-ranked Georgia Tech at the Bill Moore Tennis Center in Atlanta, Ga.
Notre Dame 5, Tennessee 2March 19, 2011USF Varsity Courts
Singles1. #3 Kristy Frilling (ND) def. #42 Natalie Pluskota (UT) 6-1, 6-02. #38 Shannon Mathews (ND) def. Rosalia Alda (UT) 6-4, 6-43. #36 Brynn Boren (UT) def. Kristen Rafael (ND) 1-6, 6-4, 6-14. #107 Jennifer Kellner (ND) def. Kata Szekely (UT) 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (13-11)5. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) def. Maria Sorbello (UT) 3-6, 6-4, 6-26. Millie Nichols (UT) def. Julie Sabacinski (ND) 7-5, 6-1
Doubles1. #33 Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews (ND) def. #59 Natalie Pluskota/Millie Nichols (UT) 8-52. Chrissie McGaffigan/Kristen Rafael (ND) def. Rosalia Alda/Maria Sorbello (UT) 8-63. Jennifer Meredith/Kata Szekely (UT) def. Jennifer Kellner/Julie Sabacinski (ND) 9-7