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ND Women’s Tennis

Irish start conference play with two road wins

| Monday, February 23, 2015

Notre Dame kicked off its ACC slate with a bang over the weekend, picking up two conference wins against Louisville and Pittsburgh.

On Friday, the No. 26 Irish (6-3, 2-0) traveled to Louisville and edged out the Cardinals (9-5, 1-1) by a 4-3 margin.

Irish sophomore Mary Closs hits a forehand during Notre Dame’s 4-3 loss to Georgia Tech on Feb.21, 2014 at Eck Tennis Pavilion. Closs and partner sophomore Jane Fennelly won both of their doubles matches this weekend.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Irish sophomore Mary Closs hits a forehand during Notre Dame’s 4-3 loss to Georgia Tech on Feb.21, 2014 at Eck Tennis Pavilion. Closs and partner sophomore Jane Fennelly won both of their doubles matches this weekend.

At No. 3 doubles, sophomores Mary Closs and Jane Fennelly cruised to a 8-4 win, while junior Quinn Gleason and sophomore Monica Robinson won an 8-6 contest at No. 1 doubles to give the Irish an early lead. After securing the doubles point against the Cardinals, Notre Dame was forced to adapt when the team realized that Gleason would not be able to continue into singles, having suffered a sprained ankle last weekend.

Without Gleason at one singles, the rest of the team had to step up and fill her shoes. Irish coach Jay Louderback said the team was able to overcome this adversity and get out of Louisville with their first ACC win of the season.

“Playing without Quinn Gleason and still getting the win was big,” Louderback said. “We had her in doubles, but she couldn’t go for us at one singles. We had everyone move up a spot. It was the first time Monica [Robinson] had to play [No. 1] singles in the ACC, and she did a great job. Everyone that moved up a spot competed really well and gave us a chance to win. For us to win, especially on the road and without Quinn, was huge for us.”

In the singles portion of the match, Notre Dame got victories from Robinson, Closs and freshman Allison Miller, at No. 1, No.3 and No.4 singles, respectively.

On Sunday, the Irish snuck past Pittsburgh (2-5, 0-2), in another close call, 4-3.

Bucking their recent losing trend, the Irish won the match despite dropping the usually-decisive doubles point as only Closs and Fennelly came away with a victory (8-6) in their doubles match.

“Losing the doubles point was disappointing for us against Pitt,” Louderback said. “We knew going in that their [No. 2] doubles team was going to be tough. Our [No. 3 team] has been playing well, so we thought it would come down to [No. 1] doubles. Quinn wasn’t moving very well, especially at the net. She was still limited by the injury, and that really hurt us.”

A strong showing at singles though ensured that the Irish took home the win from Pittsburgh, as junior Julie Vrabel, Gleason, Miller and Fennelly snagged victories in their singles matches to put the Irish over the top.

“We responded very well in singles,” Louderback said. “Quinn [Gleason] had a good win at [No. 1], and she played very well. We won four singles matches right off in straight sets, and they weren’t ever really close. We actually finished the match really quickly and just dropped the other two singles matches (with Robinson and Closs) there at the end, and even those could have gone either way.”

By the time the Irish closed out their busy weekend, they had earned two wins to open conference play.

“Especially being on the road, it was a long weekend,” Louderback said. “We were in the bus all weekend, going from Louisville to Pittsburgh through some bad weather, and it was slow going. Being able to get two wins on the road like that in the conference is a great start, and I think it’s going to be really good for our confidence as we move into ACC play.”

The Irish will hope to build off their momentum from the weekend when they welcome Syracuse to campus Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Courtney Tennis Center.

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