No. 1 singles player Kelcy Tefft will look to lead Notre Dame to their third straight NCAA quarterfinal appearance.

Notre Dame Returns From Spring Break To Battle Illinois, Western Michigan At Home

March 11, 2008

Match Details:   #23 Notre Dame (8-7) vs. #61 Illinois (5-4)            Wednesday, March 12, 2008, 3:30 p.m.            Eck Tennis Pavilion, Notre Dame, Ind.
#23 Notre Dame (8-7) vs. Western Michigan (6-5) Friday, March 14, 2008, 4:00 p.m. Eck Tennis Pavilion, Notre Dame, Ind.

Irish Say “Aloha” Over Spring Break: The Notre Dame women’s tennis team escaped from the chill of a northern Indiana winter with a well-deserved spring break trip to Honolulu. The Irish took to the outdoor courts for the first time this spring and were able to get a full week of practice in before their match against Hawaii. Notre Dame made short work of the host Rainbow Wahine, winning the match 7-0. The Irish did not drop a set to Hawaii and didn’t have any sets closer than 6-4. In their first match as the nation’s top-ranked doubles team, Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft continued their doubles dominance, extending their winning streak to seven matches with an 8-3 win. Tefft continued her impressive singles play as well, earning her fifth win in eight matches since moving to No. 1. Tefft’s 12 dual match wins are second behind Kali Krisik (13) for most singles dual wins on the team.

Simply The Best: Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft became just the second ever Irish doubles team to ascend to a #1 national ranking last Tuesday when the ITA released its latest set of rankings. Christian and Catrina Thompson were the first to accomplish that feat in February, 2005. The Thompsons also garnered the #1 ranking in 2006 and were 5-2 all time as the nation’s #1 team. A list of all matches a Notre Dame team has played with a #1 ranking is below:

Date        ND Team         Opponent        School          Result2/26/05 Thompson/Thompson       Ruckert/Strohm          Texas           L, 8-51/28/06 Thompson/Thompson       Blackmore/O'Keefe   Ohio State      W, 8-12/11/06 Thompson/Thompson       Davis/Hirsch        Wake Forest     W, 8-12/12/06 Thompson/Thompson       Anundsen/Long           North Carolina          L. 8-32/15/06 Thompson/Thompson       Delicata/Shafner    Michigan        W, 8-32/18/06 Thompson/Thompson       Schaub/Schutte          Tennessee       W, 8-12/19/06 Thompson/Thompson       Anderson/O'Riain    Harvard                 W, 9-83/8/08  Buck/Tefft          Kobuch/Bihag        Hawaii          W, 8-3

Scouting the Illini: Former Notre Dame All-American and assistant coach Michelle Dasso comes to the Eck Tennis Pavilion for the first time as a visitor when she leads the Illini to Notre Dame Wednesday. Dasso is in her second season at Illinois and has already matched her victory total from all of last season with five wins so far this year. The Illini are led by veterans Shivani Dave’ and Momei Qu, who both own a 6-3 singles mark this spring, tied for best on the team. Dave’ and Qu anchor the bottom of the singles lineup while youth is served at the top. Sophomore Megan Fudge has played No. 1 singles in every match for the Illni this year and has the most victories (13) of any player on the team. Leigh Finnegan returns from an injury that forced her out of all of the Illini’s dual matches last season. The redshirt freshman will play No. 2 singles where she is 5-4 in dual action.

The Illini are playing some of their best tennis of the year, posting three wins in their last four matches. The Illini bested DePaul (6-1) and Kansas (5-2) before dropping a 4-3 decision at Washington. Last time out, Illinois defeated Purdue 4-3 in their Big Ten opener.

Illinois should be no stranger to road matches as Wednesday will mark the Illini’s seventh road contest of the year. They are 3-3 in six previous matches away from Champaign.

Series against Illinois: Notre Dame is 19-9 all time against Illinois, including 15-3 with Jay Louderback at the helm. Notre Dame and Illinois have met every season since 1999 and all but two seasons dating back to 1980. The Irish have dominated the recent series, winning fourteen of the last fifteen meetings, including 7-0 last year. The last Illinois win came in the 2004 season, a 5-2 victory at Notre Dame.

Scouting the Broncos: Long-time Western Michigan coach Betsy Kuhle leads a Bronco squad that has dropped two straight matches after winning four in a row. Western dropped a pair of 6-1 decisions in Albuquerque to Boise State and New Mexico two weekends ago. The Broncos’ best win of the season was a 4-3 win in January at Illinois.

Junior Kerstin Pahl leads Western Michigan with a 6-4 record at #1 singles this season. She leads the Broncos in overall singles wins with 13 and has posted a 15-10 doubles mark on the year. Priyanka Parekh provides veteran leadership at #2 singles. The senior is 8-10 on the season in singles play and has partnered with Nariko Saruta to win five straight dual doubles matches.

Friday’s match will mark the highest-ranked opponent Western Michigan has played this season. The highest-ranked opponent the Broncos have faced to date is #25 Indiana. Western Michigan dropped a 6-1 decision to the home-standing Hoosiers in the season opener.

Series against Western Michigan: The Irish are 12-3 all time against Western Michigan and have won each of the last twelve meetings. The last meeting was in the 2006 season when Notre Dame bested Western 7-0 at home. The last Bronco victory came in 1984, a 6-3 win at Kalamazoo.

Rankings Update: Notre Dame fell to #23 in the latest ITA rankings. The ranking is the lowest for the Irish since finishing the 2005 season ranked 24th. Kelcy Tefft jumped twenty spots to #39 in the singles rankings, where she was joined by Kali Krisik who entered the polls at #113. Buck and Tefft are Notre Dame’s only ranked doubles players.