April 18, 2013
USF Varsity Tennis Courts
Quarterfinal - Friday, April 19
No. 1 Notre Dame (14-8) vs. No. 8 Marquette 9 a.m. (ET)
Semifinal - Saturday, April 20, 9 a.m. (ET)
Final - Sunday, April 21, 9 a.m. (ET)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame women's tennis team will attempt to win its sixth consecutive and 13th overall BIG EAST Championship this weekend at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts in Tampa, Fla.
The No. 21 Irish (14-8) are the tournament's top overall seed for the 17th time in the past 18 seasons, and will open play Friday at 9 a.m. against No. 8 Marquette. Marquette blanked No. 9 Cincinnati 4-0 Thursday in the event's first round.
The tournament semifinal matches will be held Saturday, with the BIG EAST Championship match set for Sunday. Each of the 15 women's tennis teams in the conference received invitations to the tournament, and the winner will claim the BIG EAST's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame stormed through the field at the 2012 BIG EAST Championship, outscoring its opposition a combined 12-1 on the way to claiming the program's 12th league tournament title in 17 tries. The Irish downed Rutgers 4-0 in the quarterfinal round, DePaul 4-0 in the semifinal and USF 4-1 in the championship match.
Chrissie McGaffigan looks to become the third recent Notre Dame senior to be a member of a BIG EAST Championship team in each of her four seasons. Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews, both 2012 graduates, were the last Irish players to accomplish the feat. McGaffigan, who was a career-best 16-5 in singles dual matches in 2013, is 1-1 in three conference championship appearances, with one match being abandoned unfinished.
Irish head coach Jay Louderback, with a career record of 465-196 (.703) in his 24th season at the helm of Notre Dame and a 669-374 (.641) overall mark in 34 years as a collegiate coach, is attempting to the Irish to a conference championship title for the 19th time. Louderback, a four-time Midwest Region Coach of the Year, has been named the top mentor in the BIG EAST on nine occasions. Notre Dame has been ranked in the ITA national top 30 in every edition of the poll since the end of the 1992-93 season.
Notre Dame fared well against two of the teams in its bracket draw during the regular season, downing DePaul 5-2 March 2 inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion before claiming a 6-1 decision at quarterfinal opponent Marquette April 2.
After winning at the first and second doubles courts against the Blue Demons, the Irish swept the action at third through sixth singles, with Quinn Gleason (6-2, 6-3 over Ana Vladutu at No. 3) and Katherine White (6-1, 6-2 over Zaina Sufi at No. 6) earning victories in straight sets. McGaffigan won her tiebreaker 7-5 in the second set to down Kelsey Lawson 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), while Molly O'Koniewski was a 5-2, 7-6 (7-4) winner over Jarret Fisher.
The Irish raced out to a huge advantage over Marquette the next month at the Helfaer Tennis Stadium, taking the first eight matches contested. No. 49 Britney Sanders logged a 6-3, 6-0 straight set triumph at No. 1 singles against Ana Pimienta, before Jennifer Kellner followed with a 6-2, 6-3 decision of her own at the third court over Aina Hernandez Soler. Gleason, McGaffigan and O'Koniewski also added victories against the Golden Eagles.