TAMPA, Fla. - The University of Notre Dame women's tennis team won its sixth consecutive BIG EAST Championship Sunday, defeating host USF 4-1 on the USF Varsity Tennis Courts. The No. 1 seeded Irish (17-8) claimed their 13th conference tournament title since joining the BIG EAST during the 1995-96 season, and appeared in the championship match for the 18th straight season.
Head coach Jay Louderback has now led Notre Dame to 19 conference championships (which included six straight MCC titles, 1990-1995) in his 24 seasons at the helm of the Irish.
Notre Dame overcame USF for the third consecutive season in the BIG EAST final, winning by a 4-1 margin for the second straight year.
The Irish started the day with a pair of wins in doubles for an early 1-0 advantage. Julie Sabacinski and Britney Sanders claimed an 8-5 decision at the No. 2 court over Kayla Rizzolo and Danielle Mills for the first Notre Dame victory of the match. Quinn Gleason and Katherine White added an 8-4 triumph at third doubles against Fanny Fracassi and Paula Montoya to clinch the opening Irish point.
USF squared the match by taking the first singles decision at the fifth court. Rizzolo opened an early lead against White and ultimately earned a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
It was all Notre Dame the rest of the way, as Gleason continued her hot play at No. 3 singles with a straight set win over Fracassi. The Irish freshman's 7-6, 6-3 victory gave Notre Dame a lead it would not relinquish (2-1).
Senior Chrissie McGaffigan ended her BIG EAST Championship career in style at the fourth court, scrapping to a third and deciding set with Montoya. McGaffigan's 6-3 final frame powered her to a 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 win that put the Irish within one point of the tournament title.
No. 39 Sanders ended the contest at the No. 1 singles court with a sweep of USF counterpart Katie Vasenina. After a 7-6 win in a tiebreak during the first frame, Sanders outlasted Vasenina in set two for a 7-6, 7-5 victory and clinched the conference championship for Notre Dame.
Sanders was named the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Performer after going a perfect 3-0 in singles play during the tournament.
Notre Dame awaits its seeding assignment for the NCAA Championship, which will be announced April 30 at 5:30 p.m. during the NCAA.com Selection Show.
No. 1 Notre Dame 4, No. 2 USF 1
2013 BIG EAST Women's Tennis Championship Match
April 21, 2013 USF Varsity Tennis Courts
1. No. 39 Britney Sanders (ND) def. Katie Vasenina (USF) 7-6, 7-5 *
2. Jennifer Kellner (ND) did not finish vs. L. Alonso-Martinez (USF)
3. Quinn Gleason (ND) def. Fanny Fracassi (USF) 7-6, 6-3
4. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) def. Paula Montoya (USF) 6-0, 5-7, 6-3
5. Kayla Rizzolo (USF) def. Katherine White (ND) 6-2, 6-2
6. Julie Vrabel (ND) did not finish vs. Alessandra Bonte (USF)
1. No. 55 Kellner/McGaffigan (ND) def. Alonso-Martinez/Vasenina (USF) 8-2
2. No. 67 Sabacinski/Sanders (ND) def. Rizzolo/Danielle Mills (USF) 8-5 *
3. Gleason/White (ND) def. Francassi/Montoya (USF) 8-4
Order of Finish: 5, 3, 4, 1
Match Duration: 3:57
* deciding match