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ND Women’s Tennis

Experienced squad set to begin season at home

| Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Irish will play their first match in more than two months Tuesday night when they host Western Michigan at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

During the long layover, the team has been working on being more assertive, according to Irish head coach Jay Louderback.

“We have been working on being aggressive and winning points and not waiting for our opponents to make errors,” Louderback said.

With the hopes of reducing their own errors, the Irish enter the 2016 season ranked 33rd nationally. They finished the last spring with a 14-12 record, ending eight matches in tight 4-3 scores. But a then-young Irish squad returns with far more experience, as all six singles players from last season remain on the roster, while Louderback continues to build his doubles combinations.

“We have been mixing playing sets and drilling,” Louderback said.

Irish senior Quinn Gleason fires a serve during Notre Dame’s 6-1 loss against Stanford on Feb. 6 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish senior Quinn Gleason fires a serve during Notre Dame’s 6-1 loss against Stanford on Feb. 6 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

The experienced duo of senior Quinn Gleason and junior Monica Robinson enter this season after a successful 2015 campaign that saw them go 22-9 and reach as high as No. 14 in the national rankings. They secured an at-large berth to the NCAA Doubles Championship, but Robinson’s health prevented the pair from competing during the fall. The No. 2 doubles pair will most likely be occupied by sophomores Allison Miller and Brooke Broda, who started to compete together at the end of the fall, while a combination of juniors Mary Closs and Jane Fennelly and senior Julie Vrabel will most likely take the No. 3 spot.

Irish junior Mary Closs fires a forehand during Notre Dame’s 6-1 loss to Stanford on Feb. 6 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish junior Mary Closs fires a forehand during Notre Dame’s 6-1 loss to Stanford on Feb. 6 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

The Irish tested these and different doubles pairings in their last competition, the Illinois Blast Tournament in early November. The teams of Fennelly and Miller, Gleason and Closs and freshman Rachel Chong and Vrabel won their matches Nov. 8, while Broda and Allison Miller were the lone loss for the Irish. Nonetheless, the Irish ended the tournament 3-6 in doubles, dropping all three matches played Nov. 7.

With two months of training under the belt, the Irish are ready for a new start under the leadership of their two seniors, Gleason and Vrabel.

“We are counting on our two seniors to provide leadership on and off the court,” Louderback said.

Gleason enters 2016 ranked No. 57 in singles, having put up a 6-2 record in the fall and advanced to the Round of 16 at the ITA Midwest Regional Singles Championship. She and Robinson begin the season ranked No. 32 nationally in doubles.

While Notre Dame is just beginning its season, Western Michigan is already off to a quick start, beating Oakland, 6-1, and Valparaiso, 7-0, on Saturday at West Hills Athletic Club in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

For the Irish to have success in the match, Louderback said his players need to stay within themselves and cannot get caught up in the mistakes they make.

“We need to play one point at a time and let any errors we make go,” Louderback said.

After hosting the Broncos, the Irish fly to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for ITA Kickoff Tournament at Oklahoma State University this Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

The Irish host Western Michigan to kick off their 2016 season Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

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