ND Women’s Tennis
Irish split pair of conference contests over weekend
Benjamin Padanilam | Tuesday, March 3, 2015
No. 26 Notre Dame split its two conference matches this weekend, notching a win against No. 34 Syracuse on Friday before dropping its Sunday match against No. 5 Virginia at Eck Tennis Pavilion.
On Friday, the Irish (7-4, 3-1 ACC) hosted the Orange (6-4, 1-3 ACC) and fought their way to a 5-2 victory.
At No. 1 doubles, the 21st-ranked doubles team of junior Quinn Gleason and sophomore Monica Robinson secured an 8-2 victory. Then, at No. 2 doubles, freshman Allison Miller and junior Julie Vrabel fell 8-5, but sophomores Mary Closs and Jane Fennelly secured the doubles point for Notre Dame, winning 8-6 at No. 3 doubles.
In the singles matches, a hip injury forced Robinson to retire after dropping the first set, while Vrabel fell in her match 6-3, 6-3. But the Irish picked up wins in the four remaining singles matches to secure the 5-2 victory. Closs and Fennelly cruised to victories in their matches, while Gleason and Miller fought back from a set down to secure the Irish win.
“I thought we did a good job of fighting back,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “Quinn and Allison both lost [their] first sets and did a good job of coming back and then winning the second sets, and then both won in the third. If we lose those matches, we lose the match. So we did a really good job of getting back into matches and not losing sets and letting the match get away from us.”
On Sunday, however, the Irish were swept in the singles matches by the visiting Cavaliers (9-2, 3-0 ACC), dropping the contest, 6-1.
Notre Dame’s lone point in the match came via the doubles point. Miller and Vrabel got the Irish off on the right foot, winning their match at No. 2 doubles over the 23rd-ranked doubles team of Skylar Morton and Cassie Mercer of Virginia. After Close and Fennelly dropped their match at No. 3 doubles, it was left to Gleason and Robinson to get the Irish the point, which they did with an 8-5 win at No. 1 doubles. Louderback was pleased with what he saw from his doubles teams.
“Our [No. 1] and [No. 2 doubles], that’s as good as I’ve seen us play,” Louderback said. “We were unbelievable. In [No. 1] doubles, we could have won the match 8-2. We played really, really well in that one. And our [No. 2 doubles] team is good, and they’ve been playing pretty well, but we’ve had, like, three or four matches in a row where the team we played, their strength was at [No. 2] doubles. A couple of them, that team should’ve been at [No. 1 doubles] for them. So they’ve been playing well, but they played really well today.”
With three players ranked in the the top 35 of the ITA top 50, including junior Julia Elbaba, the current No. 1 player, and the reigning NCAA individual champion, junior Danielle Collins, the Cavaliers swept the singles matches, despite what Louderback believes was a strong effort on his team’s part.
“We’re there,” Louderback said. “Quinn lost in the third set. [Allison] lost in the third set, and we were up in both. On the other side [the even numbered courts], we had two others that we were really close to getting into the third. The big thing, and we’re doing a great job of it, is just fighting. We can play with anyone, so our biggest thing is that we just can’t let up and got to play hard, and we’re doing a good job of it right now.”
The Irish have a brief break before returning to the courts March 10 when they will take on East Carolina and Florida Gulf Coast in Tampa, Florida.