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Bears Punch Ticket to Championship Match with 4-2 Win Over IrishCourtesy: Cal Athletics
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 9-ranked California women’s tennis team (22-4, 7-1 Pac-10) earned a berth in the national championship match of the 2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship with a 4-2 win over No. 5 Notre Dame (28-5, 15-2 Big East) in today’s semifinal. Winning their 11th consecutive match, the Golden Bears will be making back-to-back appearances in the championship final as they draw No. 3 Duke (27-3, 11-1 ACC) in a 4 p.m. PT match tomorrow (May 19) at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The match will be broadcast live on ESPNU with Beth Mowins calling the action and Mal Washington providing color commentary.
Needing just one more point to seal the deal, No. 41-ranked sophomore Mari Andersson put a shot so deep into the far corner of Cosmina Ciobanu’s court that the Fighting Irish junior barely got her racquet on the ball. The error ended the match with Andersson winning 7-5, 6-3 at the second court. It was her fifth straight singles win and her 20th overall in dual matches.
Cal started the day in a hole as it surrendered the doubles point for just the eighth time this season. The No. 64-ranked Irish team of Ciobanu and Kali Krisik surprised Cal’s 35th-ranked tandem of senior Claire Ilcinkas and sophomore Marina Cossou at court two with a quick 8-2 win to open the day. At court one, the Bears allowed the Irish to slip into a seven-all tie but the match was suspended when court three finished first with Notre Dame on top, 8-5, as Shannon Matthews and Colleen Rielley defeated senior Bojana Bobusic and freshman Stephany Chang.
Notre Dame stepped out to a 2-0 lead as the Irish won the first singles match. No. 38 Kristy Frilling defeated No. 26 Cossou at the second court in a 6-1, 6-1 upset. Undeterred, Cal fought back to get its first point of the match when No. 11-ranked freshman Jana Juricova got a 6-1, 6-1 win of her own over No. 29 Kelcy Tefft at the top court. Juricova’s soft-handed lob forced Tefft out of position as Juricova blasted a backhand shot for the victory.
No. 32-ranked Bobusic helped the Bears tie the score at two-all with her win over Krisik at No. 5 singles, defeating her Irish counterpart, 6-4, 6-1. After winning her first set at court four, 6-3, No. 54 Ilcinkas found herself with a 5-2 lead in the second before Matthews mounted a three-game comeback to knot the set at five-all. Ilcinkas calmly rebounded to win the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead but Matthews matched up with a quick win of her own to force a second-set tiebreaker. Ilcinkas took the first point of the breaker before racing out to a 6-1 advantage. Matthews fought her way back with two more points before Ilcinkas placed a shot deep near the Notre Dame baseline to force Matthews to hit her return long, giving Ilcinkas the 7-3 tiebreaker win and a crucial 3-2 lead in the match.
The Bears have faced Duke eight times with the Blue Devils holding a 6-2 lead in the all-time series but the last time the two teams met, Cal dismissed Duke from the 2008 NCAA championship with a 4-3 win in the round of 16 in Tulsa, Okla. The Bears are perfect against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference this season with a 3-0 record and hold a 16-2 mark against teams outside the Pac-10 conference. Last year, Cal made school history by advancing to the national championship match where it fell to UCLA, 4-0.
No. 9 California 4, No. 5 Notre Dame 2
2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship | Semifinal
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center | College Station, Texas
Monday, May 18, 2009
1. No. 7 Andersson/Juricova (CAL) vs. No. 2 Frilling/Tefft (NDU) DNF
2. No. 64 Ciobanu/Krisik (NDU) def. No. 35 Cossou/Ilcinkas (CAL) 8-2
3. Matthews/Rielley (NDU) def. Bobusic/Chang (CAL) 8-5
Order of finish: 2, 3* (Notre Dame wins doubles point)
1. No. 11 Jana Juricova (CAL) def. No. 29 Kelcy Tefft (NDU) 6-1, 6-1
2. No. 38 Kristy Frilling (NDU) def. No. 26 Marina Cossou (CAL) 6-1, 6-1
3. No. 41 Mari Andersson (CAL) def. Cosmina Ciobanu (NDU) 7-5, 6-3
4. No. 54 Claire Ilcinkas (CAL) def. Shannon Matthews (NDU) 6-3, 7-6(3)
5. No. 32 Bojana Bobusic (CAL) def. Kali Krisik (NDU) 6-4, 6-1
6. Stephany Chang (CAL) vs. Kristen Rafael (NDU) DNF
Order of finish: 2, 1, 5, 4, 3*