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ND Women’s Tennis

ND travels to Midwest regional

| Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Notre Dame will travel to Champaign, Illinois, to participate in the annual USTA/ITA Midwest Regional qualifying tournament, which starts today and runs through Tuesday.

Irish sophomore Mary Closs returns a shot during Notre Dame's 4-3 loss to Georgia Tech on Feb. 21 at the Eck Tennis Center. Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Irish sophomore Mary Closs returns a shot during Notre Dame’s 4-3 loss to Georgia Tech on Feb. 21 at the Eck Tennis Center.

The Irish will send six athletes to the tournament to compete in both the singles and doubles brackets, with two others listed as alternates. The winner of each bracket earns a birth in the National Indoor Championships, which will take place Nov. 6-9 in New York City, and Irish coach Jay Louderback said he believes his team’s players have a fair chance of making it.

“It’s big for our kids to have a chance to do it,” Louderback said. “And we do have a chance. We could well in the singles and doubles. We’d love a chance to win them.

“The next big individual tournament isn’t until the NCAA [Championships in May], so it’s a big one just for a chance to qualify.”

On the doubles side, Notre Dame has three teams that will be competing, with another pair currently listed as alternates. Junior Quinn Gleason and sophomore Monica Robinson make up one duo for the Irish. Gleason and Robinson paired up earlier this year at the All-American Invitational in Pacific Palisades, California, finishing with a 1-1 record.

Sophomore Mary Closs and senior Molly O’Koniewski will also pair up for the Irish. The two played together towards the end of last season, helping Notre Dame turn around its doubles play in the later matches of the regular season and through ACC and NCAA tournament play.

“They played well at the end of the year for us,” Louderback said of the pair. “We’re hoping they keep it up.”

The third team the Irish will field in the doubles draw is that of junior Julie Vrabel and freshman Allison Miller. Vrabel saw most of her action last year playing out of the No. 6 singles position, but with half of last year’s doubles lineup graduated, the junior will be potentially be called upon to take a leading role. Miller, a freshman from Norcross, Georgia, played well for the Irish at the season-opening Notre Dame Invitational, going 2-2 in singles play and also pairing up with O’Koniewski in the doubles portion.

On the singles side, the Irish will send four singles players to play in the main draw — Gleason, Robinson, Closs and Vrabel  and two more in O’Koniewski and Miller to play in the qualifying draw.

While the opportunity to qualify for the National Indoor Championships is one important takeaway from the weekend, Louderback also said the tournament will give the team valuable experience and exposure.

“We get to see where we stack up with teams in the region,” Louderback said. “It’s mostly Big Ten teams that will be there. Northwestern and Michigan are both top-20 schools. DePaul, Ohio State and Indiana will be there too.

“We’ll get to see some players and teams that the kids are going to play in the spring too, which is really good.”

Similar to the Notre Dame Invitational,  some of the girls will face competition that would normally be a little higher than them in the lineup, Louderback said.

“It’s still early and kids are just getting matches in, still getting a chance to play,” Louderback said. “This is probably the biggest one of the fall that they play under a little more pressure than most of the fall tournaments just because it is a qualifier for the National Indoor [Championships].

“It’s a little closer to what dual matches are like, so that should help, should be really good for them.”

The Irish will take to the courts today through Tuesday at the Midwest Regional Championships in Champaign, Illinois.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A senior History major, Zach resides in Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he has covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus.

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