Feb. 26, 2011
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The 19th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team advanced to the championship match of the Blue Gray Classic, defeating Oklahoma, 4-1, in the semifinals at the Lagoon Park Tennis Center on Saturday. The Irish now face Virginia in the championship Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (CT).
For the third consecutive match, the Irish claimed the doubles point for the early 1-0 lead. Juniors Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.), ranked 57th, claimed the first win of the day, taking down #59 Ana-Maria Constantinescu and Alice Radu, 8-4, at the No. 1 spot. The win is the fourth straight for the tandem and fourth overall against a nationally-ranked duo.
Oklahoma captured the next doubles match as Irish freshmen Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) dropped an 8-4 decision to Tara Eckel and Marie-Pier Huet at No. 3 doubles.
Notre Dame bounced back though and clinched the doubles point, as senior Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) and sophomore Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) closed out their match at No. 2 doubles with an 8-5 win over Whitney Ritchie and Maria Kalashnikova. The Irish pairing has now won two consecutive matches and evened up their overall dual record at 2-2.
McGaffigan built the lead to 2-0 as she downed Kalashnikova at No. 5 singles, 6-1, 6-1. The victory puts an end to a five-match losing streak that the sophomore had been battling.
Kellner, ranked 102nd, then pushed the margin to 3-0 as she locked down her sixth straight dual win, defeating Huet at No. 4, 6-2, 7-6. The freshman also improved to 3-0 at the No. 4 position since making the move against Wisconsin.
The Sooners got on the board, making the score 3-1, as Sabacinski fell to Mia Lancaster at No. 6 singles, 7-5, 7-5.
The match went final shortly after, however, as #3 Frilling battled back to take a three-set victory from Constantinescu at No. 1 singles, 2-6, 7-5, 7-5. Frilling found herself down a set and trailing 2-5 in the second set before rattling off five straight games and holding on in the third to earn the critical fourth point. The junior improved to 10-0 on the season and is now 76-24 in her career at that spot.
The final two matches went unfinished with Mathews tied with Radu at No. 2 singles (4-6, 6-2, 4-4) and Rafael just ahead of Ritchie at No. 3 (6-4, 2-6, 4-3).
Notre Dame now takes on Virginia for the Blue Gray Classic title on Sunday. The Irish and Virginia have only met one time in program history, with the Cavaliers capturing the win back on March 15, 1983 by a score of 8-1.
The Cavaliers enter the contest ranked ninth in the nation and as the draw’s No. 1 seed, carrying a record of 10-1. Emily Fraser and Erin Vierra, ranked 41st and 54th in singles, respectively, lead the team. Fraser and Hana Tomlijanovic also rank as the 10th-best doubles team in the nation.
The match is scheduled to get under way at 2:00 p.m. (CT). Be sure to check back with und.com for a complete recap of the championship match.
Oklahoma vs. Notre DameFeb 26, 2011 at Montgomery, Ala.#19 Notre Dame 4, #23 Oklahoma 1
Singles Competition1. Kristy Frilling (ND) def. Ana-Maria Constantinescu (OU) 2-6, 7-5, 7-52. Shannon Mathews (ND) vs. Alice Radu (OU) 4-6, 6-2, 4-4, unfinished3. Kristen Rafael (ND) vs. Whitney Ritchie (OU) 6-4, 2-6, 4-3, unfinished4. Jennifer Kellner (ND) def. Marie-Pier Huet (OU) 6-2, 7-65. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) def. Maria Kalashnikova (OU) 6-1, 6-16. Mia Lancaster (OU) def. Julie Sabacinski (ND) 7-5, 7-5
Doubles Competition1. Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews (ND) def. Ana-Maria Constantinescu/Alice Radu (OU) 8-42. Kristen Rafael/Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) def. Whitney Ritchie/Maria Kalashnikova (OU) 8-53. Tara Eckel/Marie-Pier Huet (OU) def. Jennifer Kellner/Julie Sabacinski (ND) 8-4
Match NotesOklahoma 6-2; National ranking #23Notre Dame 6-4; National ranking #19Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (5,4,6,1)