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ND Women’s Tennis: Squad wins close opener, struggles in second match

Katie Heit | Monday, January 28, 2013

 

After stealing a victory against Georgia Tech by one point Saturday, the Irish fell decisively Sunday in the finals of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend to Nebraska, losing 4-1. 

Notre Dame (3-1) came back from a 3-1 deficit Saturday to take down the Yellow Jackets (2-1) 4-3. Though co-captains junior Jennifer Kellner and senior Chrissie McGaffigan won their doubles matchup 8-3, the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams could not compete with Georgia Tech and the Irish lost the doubles point.

Down 1-0, McGaffigan put the Irish on the board with a 7-6 , 6-4 victory over Georgia Tech’s Megan Kurey at No. 4 singles. 

With the score knotted 1-1, junior Britney Sanders, ranked No. 58 in ITA rankings, fell to No. 39 Elizabeth Kilborn 6-3, 7-6 at No.1 singles. Shortly after, junior Julie Sabacinski dropped her match 7-5, 6-4, putting the Irish down 3-1. 

From there, the Irish began their comeback. Notre Dame’s next two victories were close matches, but the Irish managed to pull through. With the match tied 3-3, the final point fell to junior Jennifer Kellner

“She was so tough and pulled it out for our entire team,” McGaffigan said. 

Kellner said her 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 victory that clinched the match was valuable for the joy it gave her teammates.

“It felt good to see everyone so happy,” Kellner said. “Personally, however, I have a few things I really need to work on.” 

The match Sunday against Nebraska proved to be more than the Irish could handle, however, as they entered the championship match. 

Again, the Irish fell behind early with the loss of the doubles point. In singles play, only two members of the Notre Dame squad managed to win a set. Freshman Quinn Gleason snatched the only point for the Irish with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Nebraska’s Stefanie Weinstein. McGaffigan won her second set, but her match remained unfinished when three of her teammates fell before the end of her third set, leaving the Irish with a 4-1 loss and breaking their three-match winning streak. 

“It was a tough loss,” Kellner said. “Everyone is a little bummed. But it only motivates us more and shows us that we still have more we can work on.” 

McGaffigan said the key to both matches was the loss of the doubles point, which puts the team in a huge deficit before singles play begins.  

“We have such talented doubles teams that we think we are capable of winning the doubles point in every single match,” McGaffigan said. “We are going to work really hard on our doubles play this week to prepare for our matches this weekend.” 

The Irish will look for that early lead this weekend when they take on Tennessee at home Sunday at 9 a.m

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu