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ND Women’s Tennis: Transfer finds home with Irish

Vicky Jacobsen | Wednesday, February 6, 2013

For a while, it looked like Molly O’Koniewski was the one that got away.

Irish coach Jay Louderback showed the high schooler from Hilton Head, S.C., around Notre Dame’s campus the day before Thanksgiving Break in Nov. 2010. Even though most of the student body had already left, O’Koniewski said the campus “had that special feel to it.”

But this special feeling didn’t keep her from committing to the University of Virginia.

“I had recruited her when she was in high school and really liked her, and we were interested in her,” Louderback said. “She committed to Virginia early, so even though she was probably someone we would’ve offered a scholarship to, we didn’t do it because she had already committed.”

But by the end of her freshman season last May, O’Koniewski was having second thoughts about her college choice, and called Louderback to see if she could transfer to Notre Dame.

“When she called me we were interested, definitely,” Louderback said. “We had a scholarship open, and it was a good year to bring someone in.”

O’Koniewski didn’t hesitate.

“[There were] a few different reasons [for leaving Virginia], but I just felt like I could do really well under Jay and [assistant coach Kelcy Flores’s] coaching style,” O’Koniewski said. “I always loved Notre Dame, I just felt like it would be a better fit for me.”

She spent the summer on campus, attending summer school, getting to know some of her teammates and ensuring that she wasn’t going to spend another school year feeling like a freshman. But she credits transfer orientation with helping her acclimate quickly to Notre Dame life.

O’Koniewski has quickly found success as a member of the Irish squad. In the fall, she went 7-3 in doubles with junior Julie Sabacinski and 4-4 in singles. In her first season with the Irish, O’Koniewski has gone 5-1 in singles play at No. 6 singles and has proved to be an integral part of several Irish victories this year.

O’Koniewski said she is glad she made the move to join the Notre Dame family.

“I’m so lucky that it worked out that I was able to transfer here,” O’Koniewski said. “I really felt like this is the place for me and you really do feel like part of a family and it’s just awesome. The coaches are great, the team is amazing, and I’m just very lucky to be a part of it.”

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu