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ND Women’s Tennis

ND fails to finish against ‘Canes

| Monday, April 13, 2015

As the weather changed from clear and cloudless to cold and windy in a matter of an hour, Notre Dame’s fortunes changed with it.

After securing the doubles point, the Irish (14-7, 8-4 ACC) fell in all but one singles match as they battled both No. 17 Miami (Fla.) and the spring weather, at least until the match was forced inside. At the end of the day, Notre Dame was handed just its second loss in its last eight matches, 5-2.

While still playing outside at Courtney Tennis Center during the doubles portion, the No. 27 tandem of junior Quinn Gleason and sophomore Monica Robinson earned the victory over the top duo from the Hurricanes (13-6, 9-2 ACC), senior Monique Albuquerque and junior Clementina Riobueno, 8-4, after jumping out to a 3-0 lead and weathering a late comeback from the Hurricanes.

Notre Dame freshman Allison Miller stretches for a backhand  during her and junior Julie Vrabel's Feb. 4 doubles match against Stanford.Michael Yu | The Observer

Notre Dame freshman Allison Miller stretches for a backhand during her and junior Julie Vrabel’s Feb. 4 doubles match against Stanford.

“We went into it prepared with the right mindset of needing to play this like any other match,” Robinson said. “We knew they were ranked before the match started, but we took it one point at a time, one game at a time. We see this as preparing for NCAAs, and we take every match as preparing for that. It was amazing for us to get this win to be honest. It was really cool.”

Once junior Julie Vrabel and freshman Allison Miller completed a furious comeback by winning the last six games to take the match, 8-6, Notre Dame took an early lead into the singles portion of the afternoon.

By the time the 10-minute break was over between doubles and singles, however, the weather had made both players and spectators miserable. The wind was starting to affect every point in singles play before rain forced the match to conclude inside Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“The weather was a little ominous,” Robinson said. “It started off beautiful even though it was very windy. During doubles there were some shots where the ball just turned around, we didn’t know what would happen. When we played outside, I think we did well. Once it started to rain, we had that delay, which was kind of a bummer for us.”

Only Vrabel was able to keep her momentum going into the singles session, as she cruised to an easy victory over one of four ranked Hurricanes, No. 67 Riobueno, 6-3, 6-4.

Elsewhere, the Irish were able to keep some of the matches close, as Gleason, Miller and sophomore Mary Closs all fell in three sets. Gleason put up a fight against No. 11 junior Stephanie Wagner, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-5, while Closs forced a tiebreaker with freshman Silvia Fuentes in the third set, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-0) and Miller hung with senior Lina Lileikite, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The Irish have had a similar experience with the Hurricanes, who knocked them out of the ACC tournament a year ago after also beating them in Coral Gables, Florida. But now the squad must turn its attention to next weekend and the last two matches of the regular season, Robinson said.

“I think the big thing for us is that we need to keep our heads up staying positive and motivating each other,” Robinson said. “We can’t let the loss get to us. This one was tough, but we know we have to be ready for ACCs. We won’t be as highly ranked as last year, but it’ll be fun going in as the underdog and seeing what we can do in the ACCs.”

The Irish return to the courts Friday when they travel to No. 20 Clemson (14-8, 10-3 ACC) before coming back to campus for a match against No. 22 Duke (14-7, 9-2 ACC) on Sunday.

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