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ND Women’s Tennis

Irish sweep season opener

| Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Being away from the court for almost two months might be a challenge for most teams, but the Irish opened regular season play with a pair of victories over Western Michigan and the IUPUI on Saturday, defeating both teams by a count of 7-0.

Irish senior Julie Sabacinski returns the ball on Saturday against Western Michigan. Sabacinski  defeated Bronco freshman Tracy Kuhle in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.Emmet Farnan

Irish senior Julie Sabacinski returns the ball on Saturday against Western Michigan. Sabacinski
defeated Bronco freshman Tracy Kuhle in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.

For Irish head coach Jay Louderback, the victories were a reassuring sign for the season.

“I think you could definitely see we hadn’t played for a while,” Louderback said. “There was a little bit of rust. … We started off slow in the first couple of sets, but as the day went on, we played better and better. It’s a key for us to get everybody a couple of matches in the lineup before we start playing the ACC. So that was probably the biggest thing for us, was the chance to get everybody in.”

In particular, Louderback was impressed with the play of the team’s three freshmen: Jane Fennelly, Mary Closs and Monica Robinson.

“I think what was great was our three freshmen got their first dual match wins,” Louderback said. “And for freshmen that’s the toughest because it is their first match playing for the team and they haven’t done that before and they’re nervous. So it was good for them to not only get in their first singles match, but also to each get a win.”

The Irish (2-0) were never in any real danger throughout the day’s action, exemplified by the play of sophomore Quinn Gleason, who won both of her matches at No. 1 singles by scores of 6-4, 6-1, and 6-1, 6-1. The Irish as a team would only lose one set throughout the entire day’s play.

The strong performance of the team allowed Louderback to adapt to the absence of senior Britney Sanders, who forms one half of the number-one doubles with Gleason and missed both matches due to illness.

“We knew an hour and a half before the match that she was sick, and so our kids [and the freshmen] came in thinking they knew what their spot in the lineup was, what was going to happen, and then we had to change things,” Louderback said. “We’re hoping she’s fine for next week. But that sort of thing happens throughout the year, and it was good for that to happen early.

“And as I told our freshmen when we went into play, ‘Welcome to college tennis. That happens.’ You’ve got to be ready to adjust quickly.”

The Irish resume play Saturday, when they travel to Evanston, Ill., to take on Arizona State. Match time is 3 p.m.

 

 

 

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