Head coach Jay Louderback has helped his current squad to an all-time high ranking of second and has now landed his first #1 recruiting class.

Notre Dame Signs A Trio Of Top Recruits, Including Nation's #1 Player

Nov. 15, 2005

Notre Dame women’s tennis head coach Jay Louderback announced today that three stars of prep and junior tennis – Cosmina Ciobanu (Brea, Calif./Troy H.S.), Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan./Arkansas City H.S.), and Colleen Rielley (Overland Park, Kan./Bishop Miege H.S.) – have signed national letters of intent in the early period and will join the Irish in the fall of 2006. Rielley is currently #1 in the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) 18-and-under girls’ singles national rankings, while Ciobanu is 17th, and Krisik is a two-time Kansas state champion.

“I am very excited about this class,” said Louderback. “They all bring national experience to our program and are not only top singles players but are three of the top doubles players coming out of high school. All three are perfect examples of what a student-athlete is supposed to be.”

Ciobanu, a senior at Troy High School in Fullerton, Calif., won the Southern California Sectional singles championship in 2005 and also has reached the singles final of a USTA National Open this year. She has been ranked as high as 15th nationally in singles in 2005. She will be the latest in a long line of southern California products to play tennis for the Irish, a list that includes 1982 All-American Laura Lee (Agoura, Agoura High School). Ciobanu will be the 12th California native ever to play for the Irish women’s tennis team, which is second only to 13 Illinois products doing so.

“Cosmina is a very experienced player on the national level,” said Louderback. “Coming from a tough Southern California section, she knows what it takes to be successful when playing against top competition.”

Krisik, a senior at Arkansas City High School which is near the Oklahoma border in the eastern half of Kansas, won the Kansas class 5A state singles championship in both 2002 and ’03. She has to her credit a doubles title in a USTA National Open and has been ranked as high as 75th nationally in singles this year (currently 76th). She also stands 62nd in doubles. Krisik is Louderback’s niece, and she is part of the first mother-daughter combination ever to play for the longtime Irish mentor. Louderback’s sister, Jan, was his first recruit when he began his head coaching career at Wichita State in 1980. Krisik will join both her uncle and her cousin, current sophomore Bailey Louderback (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.), in the Irish program. The Louderbacks were honored in 2003 as the USTA Tennis Family of the Year.

“Kali has the ability to become a great college player,” said Louderback. “Her ability has been in evidence at the end of each summer when she has had the chance to consistently play in national tournaments. She is also one of the top doubles players coming out of the juniors.”

Rielley, a senior at Bishop Miege High School in Shawnee Mission, Kan., outside of Kansas City, is the first Notre Dame signee ever to have been ranked #1 in the USTA girls’ 18s. She has combined with Krisik to take each of the last four Kansas state singles titles in class 5A, having prevailed in both 2004 and ’05. She also won the Missouri state championship in ’03. In juniors action, she holds an 80-8 record in singles play over the past year to put her atop the current USTA national standings list. She also is ranked fourth in the country in doubles. Rielley won the singles title in the 2004 USTA Winter National Championships and took third in the ’05 National Clay Courts. She also has a pair of singles titles in National Opens to her credit.

“Colleen is a great example of how far you can go by working hard and being a great competitor,” said Louderback. “Her drive will give her the opportunity to become a top college player.”

Rielley and Krisik will bring a Kansas connection to the Irish after only two previous natives of the Sunflower State had ever played for the Notre Dame women’s tennis program. Both of them had outstanding careers, as Susie Panther (Prairie Village, Shawnee Mission East High School, 1983-86) finished her time at Notre Dame with a 101-25 record in doubles. Her victory total stood as the Irish career record for 15 years before being broken by current assistant coach Michelle Dasso (109-42) in 2001. The other Kansan to play for the Irish, Lisa Tholen (Wichita, Mt. Carmel High School, 1991-94), became a doubles All-American in her final season by advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA doubles tournament.

The current Irish squad will begin its dual-match schedule on Jan. 28 with a home doubleheader. Notre Dame will play host to Ohio State at 11 a.m. (EST) in the Eck Tennis Pavilion before facing Xavier at 4 p.m.