Junior Kristen Rafael clinched the win for the Irish with a victory at No. 5 singles.

Notre Dame Heads to the Lone Star State for a Texas Double

March 20, 2008

Match Details:  #24 Notre Dame (10-7) at #27 Texas A&M (8-4)        Saturday, March 22, 2008, 1:30 CT        George P. Mitchell Tennis Center, College Station, TX
#24 Notre Dame (10-7) at SMU (8-7) Monday, March 24, 2008, 2:00 CT SMU Tennis Center, Dallas, TX

Irish Match Season High Three-Match Winning Streak: With wins over Hawaii (7-0), Illinois (6-1) and Western Michigan (7-0), the Notre Dame women’s tennis team has matched its best streak of the season. Notre Dame won consecutive matches over South Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio State last month. The win assures that Notre Dame will post double-digit dual wins for the twenty-ninth consecutive season. The Irish have dropped only two sets during the streak and have won twelve consecutive doubles matches. Notre Dame’s last setback was a 5-2 defeat at the hands of #2 Georgia Tech on March 1.

Still the Best: For the second consecutive set of rankings, Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft have earned the #1 national ranking in doubles, becoming just the second Notre Dame doubles team to earn this honor. The pair is 3-0 since being named #1 and is an impressive 25-4 this season. Buck and Tefft have a career mark of 84-18 over three seasons, good for an .824 winning percentage. This ranks the duo second all time in Notre Dame tennis history in career doubles winning percentage. The top three teams in career doubles winning percentage (minimum 15 matches played) are listed below.

Team                    Years       Record          Percentage
Lauren Connelly/Kristina Stastny 2005-06 36-6 .857Brook Buck/Kelcy Tefft 2005-08 84-18 .824Wendy Crabtree/Lisa Tholen 1993-94 26-6 .813

Scouting the Aggies: Texas A&M is coming off recent road wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to open Big XII conference play. Two of the Aggies four losses have come against ranked teams, including a 5-2 loss to #12 Fresno State and a 6-1 home loss to #6 Georgia. The other two A&M losses came by 4-3 scores. The Aggies have shown the ability to play with top-20 teams, evidenced by their 6-1 victory over then-#19 Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are the only opponent common to A&M and Notre Dame, as the Irish defeated Wake 4-3 last month.

A&M, which advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season is lead by No. 1 singles player Elze Potgeiter who owns a 15-8 singles mark this season. The sophomore, ranked #76 by the ITA, has won five matches in a row, including a straight set win over #11 Melanie Gloria of Fresno State. Five of Potgeiter’s defeats have come at the hands of ranked players.

The Aggies are also strong in doubles, posting a 24-12 mark in doubles dual play this season. The Aggies have dropped the doubles point only three times all season. The No. 2 doubles team of Anna Blagodrova and Michelle Sammons is 15-4 this season, good for the best record on the team. The duo is 8-4 in dual play. The Aggies figure to provide a doubles challenge for Notre Dame who has captured the doubles point in nine of its last ten matches.

Series Against Texas A&M: Notre Dame holds a 4-1 lead in the series against the Aggies. The Irish have won the last four meetings including one each of the last two seasons. The #2 Irish defeated the #23 Aggies 5-2 at home last season and survived a 4-3 match against Texas A&M in College Station in 2006. The last win for A&M in the series was in 1990, a 7-1 home victory.

Scouting the Mustangs: SMU is on a five-match losing streak after winning its first six contests of the season. The Mustangs fell 5-2 last time out against Tulsa, after dropping a 6-1 decision to Big East foe Louisville last week. SMU’s best win is a 5-2 road victory last month over Oklahoma State, which gave the Cowgirls their first loss of the year.

The Mustangs return all seven team members from the ’07 squad that finished 19-5 and finished runner up in Conference USA.

Series Against SMU: Monday will mark the first meeting between Notre Dame and SMU in women’s tennis.

Rankings Update: The Irish fell to #24 in the recent ITA rankings, their lowest ranking of the year. Notre Dame also garnered three singles rankings with Kelcy Tefft at a season and career high 38th, Cosmina Ciobanu at #107 and Kali Krisik at #114. Ciobanu and fellow sophomore Colleen Rielley joined Buck and Tefft in the doubles rankings at #50.