NOTRE DAME, Ind. – No. 1 seed Louisville picked up its second-straight BIG EAST Men's Tennis Championship title today, while No. 1 see Notre Dame clinched its fourth consecutive BIG EAST Women's Tennis Championship crown. The 2011 BIG EAST Tennis Championships were hosted by the University of Notre Dame.
The 24th-ranked Cardinals defeated second-seeded and No. 30-ranked Notre Dame 4-2. This marks the second consecutive and third overall league title for UofL (17-11). The Cardinals earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Pairings will be announced May 3 at 5:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Louisville opened the match by taking a hotly contested doubles point. Notre Dame's Casey Watt and Stephen Havens defeated UofL’s Alejandro Calligari and Robert Hall 8-4 at the two-spot. At No. 1 doubles, the Cardinal pair of Simon Childs and Viktor Maksimcuk edged the Irish duo of Niall Fitzgerald and Spencer Talmadge 8-7. The doubles point came down to court No. 3 where Louisville’s Austen Childs and Adam Donaldson teamed to beat ND’s Greg Andrews and Daniel Stahl 8-5 give the Cards a 1-0 lead.
In singles action, Austen Childs, No. 16 in the ITA singles rankings, added to the Louisville lead with a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 60 Casey Watt at the No. 1 position. Notre Dame picked up wins at Nos. 3 and 4 to even the match at 2-2. No. 94 Stahl beat Simon Childs 6-3, 6-2 at No. 3, while Andrews topped Hall 6-4, 6-3 at the fourth spot.
Andrew Carter put the Cardinals back on top with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Blas Moros on court No. 6. At the No. 2 position, Maksimcuk and Havens went to three sets before Maksimcuk prevailed 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 to give Louisville its second straight league championship.
During the awards ceremony after the championship match, Austen Childs was named the 2011 BIG EAST Mean’s Most Outstanding Player.
On the women’s side, 23rd-ranked Notre Dame captured the league title for the fourth-straight year and 11th time since joining the conference. The Irish held off a late rally from USF to secure a 4-2 decision over a team that earlier in the year defeated them 5-2.
Junior Shannon Mathews was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after posting a 3-0 record in singles and clinching every match along the way at No. 2 over the weekend.
After a sluggish start in doubles competition, the Irish rebounded down the stretch to pull out the first point of the match. The Notre Dame combination of Jennifer Kellner and Julie Sabacinski continued their strong tournament play, dispatching USF’s Alessandra Bonte and Kate Parker 8-3 at No. 3 doubles. The Irish tandem went a perfect 3-0 over the weekend and was the first team to finish in each of the team's three matches.
Notre Dame then turned to No. 2 doubles to clinch the point. After trailing in the match 6-5, ND’s Kristen Rafael and Chrissie McGaffigan captured the next three games to finish off an 8-6 win over the Bull’s team of Irene Rehberger and Ecaterina Vasenina.
In singles action, Rafael did not drop a single game in her match at No. 4, taking down USF’s Alonso Martinez, 6-0, 6-0. McGaffigan then pushed the contest to match point, taking down Bonte at No. 5 singles, 6-4, 6-3. However, the Bulls did not give in as they came back to claim the next two singles points and shrink the margin to one. At No. 1 singles, Notre Dame’s Kristy Frilling could not outlast Rehberger, dropping a 7-5, 6-3 decision. The loss is only the third of the year in dual action for the Irish junior, dropping her to 18-3 on the year. Shortly after, Kellner fell to USF’s Janette Bejkova 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3 singles.
With the match tightening up with only two courts still in action, Mathews fought through a difficult second set to claim a straight-sets victory over Vasenina, 6-4, 7-5. The junior trailed in the first set 4-1 before rattling off five consecutive games to gain the one set advantage. Then, with the second set even at 4-4, the two competitors traded three consecutive breaks of serve to give Mathews a 6-5 edge and a chance to serve out the match. The final game saw several deuces, but ND’s Mathews eventually pulled out the title-clinching point after hitting a winner down the left baseline.
The Irish are now 11-5 all-time in BIG EAST Championship finals. Notre Dame is 1-1 against USF this season and improved to 3-1 against the Bulls in conference final matchups. The last time the two teams met in the BIG EAST Championship, the Irish posted a 4-1 victory in 2008.
Louisville and Notre Dame receive the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship and await the seeding announcement, which taking place May 3 at the NCAA tournament selection show.
For complete results from the 2011 BIG EAST Tennis Championships, please visit the Championship Central page on the BIG EAST website.