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ND Women’s Tennis: Vrabel advances to second day

By Vicky Jacobsen | Friday, October 11, 2013

Sophomore Julie Vrabel will move on to the second day of qualifying at the ITA Midwestern Regional Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., after taking her only match of the day in straight sets.

Freshman Jane Fennelly got split results, while junior Molly O’Koniewski went down against Michigan State sophomore Emily Meyers, knocking both Irish players out of the tournament held at the Varsity Tennis Center at the University of Michigan.

Vrabel defeated Illinois freshman Louise Kwong, 6-2, 6-0, after receiving a bye in the first round.

“The girl I played I thought competed very well,” Vrabel said. “She was a lefty, so that was a little bit tricky on her serve, and she had a really, really good backhand, so that was something to deal with.”

Vrabel said she thought it was a good day for all three Notre Dame players in the tournament.

“Well I think my serve has improved a lot because I’ve been working on it since the surgery, and I thought I played well,” Vrabel said. “I tried to stay aggressive and working on my confidence with that. And I thought all of our players did really well today overall, so I think it was a successful day.”

Fennelly came from behind to beat Eastern Michigan junior Ankita Bhatia, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, Thursday morning before falling to Toledo senior Chrissy Coffman, 7-5, 6-2, in the afternoon. O’Koniewski’s match also went into three sets, as she and Meyers battled to a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 decision that favored Meyers. 

Vrabel will resume play tomorrow when she faces Eastern Michigan senior Nino Mebuke.

“She’s one of the top four seeds in the section of my draw,” Vrabel said of Mebuke

Doubles play in the tournament begins today, and if Vrabel advances, she will be joined by senior teammates Jennifer Kellner and Britney Sanders and freshmen Mary Closs and Monica Robinson on Saturday. The final round of the tournament will not conclude until Monday.

“It is hard starting early and playing in the qualifiers,” Vrabel said. “And if I do make the main draw, it’s going to be tough because it’s day-after-day and the days are really long and the matches are spread out, so it’ll be hard as we get through the tournament. But I think we should be able to handle it quite well.”

Although watching teammates play can be draining both physically and mentally, Vrabel said the indoor Varsity Tennis Center alleviates some of the draining effects of day-long tournaments.

“We play indoors, so I don’t think it’s that tough,” Vrabel said. “There’s not really a heat factor or anything, so I think it’s less work to play indoors. My teammates had three-setters, so I’m sure they had a really tiring day.”

Vrabel will return to action today, when she faces Mebuke in the tournament’s singles qualifying round.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu