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ND Women’s Tennis: Juniors form strong pair

Katie Heit | Tuesday, February 19, 2013

During her time at Notre Dame, junior Britney Sanders has been partnered with several teammates for doubles pairings, but somehow she always seems to come back to fellow junior Julie Sabacinski.

The pair started to work together when they were 15 years old playing in the junior league. When they were 16, Sanders and Sabacinski partnered and began playing doubles together. Together the pair won super nationals 18s in Arizona and won gold, silver and bronze balls in the competition.

When they came to Notre Dame, the friends were not originally paired together. Sanders played with then-senior Kristen Rafael and Sabacinski partnered with current senior Chrissie McGaffigan during their freshmen years.

In their sophomore campaigns, the longtime partners were given a chance to play together at the collegiate level as they entered the tail end of their seasons. The pair went 7-1 at No. 2 doubles, including two wins against doubles pairs from top-20 teams.

Sanders said she has seen vast improvement in her doubles game in the time they’ve been playing together.

“I think we have improved significantly since we first started,” Sanders said. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I think our different game styles complement each other very well.”

The pair was ranked No 36 in the ITA preseason rankings during the 2012 fall season. They went 8-2 in doubles, including a 4-0 record at the Hoosier Classic.

Despite the success they have achieved throughout their years as partners, Sanders said no moment stood out to her.

“I just like playing doubles with her all the time,” Sanders said. “It’s always fun competing with your best friend on the court.”

Though Sanders and Sabacinski dropped their first doubles match of the 2013 season Sunday against Northwestern, they will have more opportunities to be on the court together.

Sanders said if given a choice between playing singles or doubles, she would opt for the camaraderie of partner play.

“Doubles and singles are two completely different things,” Sanders said. “I like playing both for different reasons, but if I had to choose I would pick doubles. I like having someone there beside me on the court.”

The Irish are next in action Friday when they host Baylor at 5 p.m.

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu