ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The NC State women’s tennis team was defeated, 4-1, by Notre Dame in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Championship Friday afternoon at the Varsity Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Michigan.
"I was so pleased with everyone's heart in today's effort," said head coach Hans Olsen. "Each person had such an important role and they all did a great job. I told the team I was so proud of them. The enthusiasm that they bring is so special."
The Wolfpack (14-10) was aggressive to start doubles and took a 2-1 lead on all three courts, but the Fighting Irish (18-8) collected wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots to clinch the doubles point.
NC State’s sophomore tandem of Nicole Martinez and Elisha Hande fell, 8-4, to Julie Sabacinski and Britney Sanders on court two, before Jenny Kellner and Chrissie McGaffigan outlasted senior Tatiana Illova and junior Joelle Kissell, 8-6, on court one to put Notre Dame ahead, 1-0, in the overall match.
Senior Chloe Smith and sophomore Sophie Nelson led ND’s Quinn Gleason and Katherine White, 8-7, on court three when the doubles point was decided, but the match went unfinished.
The Wolfpack responded in a big way at the beginning of singles play, claiming first-set victories in four of the six contests.
Playing in her first-career NCAA Championship match, freshman Rachael James-Baker tied up the overall match, 1-1, with a convincing, 6-2, 6-1, victory over McGaffigan in the No. 4 spot.
"I was happy with how she handled herself," Olsen said. "She was on the court before every team practice this week. Her hard work paid off this week and she was very sharp today."
Notre Dame countered at No. 2 singles however, where Kellner defeated the 86th-ranked Illova, 7-6 (3), 6-3, to put the Fighting Irish ahead for the remainder of the match.
Smith, playing in the No. 3 spot, won a tough first set, 6-4, over Gleason, but could not hold on to her momentum, before falling, 6-1, 6-1 in the final two sets.
Kissell, the nation’s 53rd-ranked player, found herself in a tight battle with Notre Dame’s 48th-ranked Sanders in the No. 1 spot. Kissell dropped the first set, 6-3, but battled back to force a third frame after winning the second set by the same count.
Sanders would respond one last time with a 6-4 third-set victory to clinch the overall match for the Fighting Irish.
"Everyone wants a team that is really close, supports eachother, works really hard, has great leaders and chemistry, and this team has all of those things," Olsen said. "This is a special group."
NC State’s 2013 season comes to a close, but Kissell will compete in the 2013 NCAA Singles Championship, which will be held May 22-27 at the University of Illinois-Champaign.
Tennis Match Results
May 10, 2013
#24 Notre Dame 4, #42 NC State 1
1. #76 Chrissie McGaffigan/Jenny Kellner (ND) def. Tatiana Illova/Joelle Kissell, 8-6
2. #82 Julie Sabacinski/Britney Sanders (ND) def. Nicole Martinez/Elisha Hande, 8-4
3. Sophie Nelson/Chloe Smith (NCSU) vs. Quinn Gleason/Katherine White, 8-7, unfinished
1. #48 Britney Sanders (ND) def. #53 Joelle Kissell (NCSU), 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
2. Jenny Kellner (ND) def. #86 Tatiana Illova (NCSU) 7-6 (3), 6-3
3. Quinn Gleason (ND) def. Chloe Smith (NCSU), 4-6, 6-1, 6-1
4. Rachael James-Baker (NCSU) def. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND), 6-2, 6-1
5. Elisha Hande (NCSU) vs. Katherine White (ND), 7-5, 1-6, 3-4, unfinished
6. Nicole Martinez (NCSU) vs. Julie Vrabel (ND), 6-4, 5-7, 1-3, unfinished
Order of Finish
Doubles: 2,1* Singles: 4,2,3,1*