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ND Women’s Tennis: Squad drops close matches

Vicky Jacobsen | Monday, February 18, 2013

Living on the edge finally caught up with the No. 19 Irish, as they lost to Purdue, 4-3, at home on Friday and then dropped their Sunday match at Northwestern, 5-2.

Notre Dame (5-3) lost the doubles point in both matches. The Irish have now lost the doubles point, an area in which they have historically succeeded, in six of their eight dual matches this semester.

“Our coaches have been trying to mix things up to see who plays good with who, but I think we really need to get our confidence back in doubles,” junior Britney Sanders said. “It means so much going into singles, and it starts by knowing we can win it.”

Friday’s match was the fifth one this season decided by a 4-3 score, but it was only the second time the Irish couldn’t find a way to win. But they didn’t give up easily – the match lasted for four and a half hours before Purdue freshman Tess Bernard-Feigenhaum bested Irish senior Chrissie McGaffigan, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, giving the No. 24 Boilermakers (3-1) the win.

Sanders, junior Jennifer Kellner and freshman Quinn Gleason each earned individual wins, while sophomore Molly O’Koniewski and junior Julie Sabacinski lost to the bottom of the Boilermaker lineup. O’Koniewski’s 6-2, 6-2 loss to senior Imogen Golder was her first singles loss in a dual meet as a member of the Notre Dame team.

If the Irish had trouble regaining their footing Sunday, Sanders said it was due to the efforts of the No. 10 Wildcats (5-3) instead of the after effects of Friday’s marathon match. Although the Irish try to treat matches against Northwestern like any other, the Wildcats have been a major roadblock for the Irish in recent years. 

“Playing Northwestern is always nerve-racking,” Sanders said. “They’ve beaten us in NCAAs the past two year on their home court, so it’s tough going back.”

The Northwestern No. 15 doubles duo comprised of junior Nida Hamilton and senior Linda Abu Mushrefova made the first move of the afternoon, beating Notre Dame’s No. 30 pair of Sabacinski and Sanders, 8-6. Kellner and McGaffigan tied up the doubles point by beating freshman Alicia Barnett and junior Veronica Corning, 8-6, but the Wildcats captured the doubles point when junior Belinda Niu and senior Kate Turvy defeated Gleason and freshman Jule Vrabel, 9-8 (7-5).

The Irish didn’t score a point before the result was already decided. Mushrefova beat O’Koniewski, 6-3, 6-1, Corning got the best of Kellner in two sets, winning 6-4, 6-1, and Barnett took down Sabacinski 7-5, 6-4. 

Although the outcome was no long in doubt, the Irish won two of the remaining singles matches, as No. 74 Sanders defeated No. 41 Turvy, 7-5, 6-4, to win her second singles match of the weekend. McGaffigan went into a tiebreak for the second time in three days, this time beating senior Brittany Wowchuk 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). Gleason forced a third set against Niu, but the Irish freshman took the loss, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-2). 

“Obviously, losing means there are things we need to work, on, but we didn’t get blown off the courts,” Sanders said. “It just wasn’t our day.”

The Irish will try to get back on their feet at home when they host No. 18 Baylor. The Irish and Bears will square off at the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Friday at 5 p.m.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu