ND Women’s Tennis
Irish pair falls in championship match
Zach Klonsinski | Monday, October 27, 2014
Irish coach Jay Louderback said the day Notre Dame left for Champaign, Illinois, last week the team had a good shot at taking home a singles title, a doubles title — or both.
Junior Quinn Gleason and sophomore Monica Robinson almost succeeded in doing just that.
Gleason and Robinson had three match points in the Midwest Regional doubles championship match but were unable to secure the win, falling to the Michigan duo of senior Emina Bektas and freshman Alex Najarian by a slim margin, 8-7 (8-6). The Irish pair, ranked 28th nationally, led the tiebreaker, 6-3, in a race to seven, but the Wolverine team rallied for five straight points to win by two.
“The final was a great match,” Louderback said. “Quinn and Monica played very well. It was a high quality match, and we looked really good.”Gleason and Robinson were not the only Irish doubles duo to post a strong showing. Junior Julie Vrabel and freshman Allie Miller fell to Bektas/Najarian in the semifinals, 8-1. The Irish came within one victory from playing each other in the championship.
“We had two doubles teams in the semifinals,” Louderback said. “Both teams played really well. Julie Vrabel and Allie Miller had a very good tournament.”
Gleason and Robinson cruised into the championship match, beating teams from Northern Illinois (8-4), Michigan State (8-6), Ohio State (8-5) and Northwestern (8-1) along the way. Vrabel and Miller advanced past pairs from Illinois (8-3), Wisconsin (8-7, (7-3)) and Eastern Michigan (8-6) before losing to the eventual champions in the semifinals.
Louderback said he was encouraged by the team’s performance, an improvement over the doubles lineup’s struggles last season.
“It’s still early, but it was good to see how well they did,” Louderback said. “And we’ve still got Brooke Broda, another freshman who hasn’t played yet … so it’s a little up in the air, but just getting to see how those two doubles teams who were in the semis did and how well they played together was great.”
Robinson also posted a strong showing for the Irish in the singles bracket, advancing to the semifinals before falling 6-4, 6-2, to Michigan junior Ronit Yurovsky, the 21st-ranked singles player in the country and last year’s Midwest Regional champion. Northwestern senior Lok Sze Leung knocked out Gleason in the round of 16 in another tight match, 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 6-3. Vrabel, Miller and sophomore Mary Closs advanced to the second round before their tournament runs came to an end.
“It was a good tournament for us,” Louderback said. “Monica getting to the semis, Julie Vrabel, Mary Closs … Allie Miller qualified [for the main draw], which was great for her first road trip.”
In addition to the early season action and the opportunity to play more matches, Louderback said the tournament helped his team adjust to traveling.
“Our first tournament we played was here, so it was good to get on the road,” Louderback said. “It was good just to get them out, and Allie hadn’t been on the road yet with the team so that was good for her. … We’ll be on the road a lot in the spring.
“We’ve been really excited about … the extra time everyone has been putting in, and we really felt that at the regional it showed.”
Notre Dame returns to practice for a couple weeks before its next competition. The Irish will send two players south to Sarasota, Florida, to play on clay courts at the Lakewood Ranch Invitational, and the rest of the team will travel to the Western Michigan Invitational in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Nov. 7.