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ND Women’s Tennis

Notre Dame weathers season of ups and downs

| Friday, May 13, 2016

A trip to the ACC quarterfinals capped off an erratic season for Notre Dame.

The Irish (14-13,  5-9 ACC) performed well at home this season, finishing with an 8-3 record in matches played at Eck Tennis Pavilion or Courtney Tennis Center, but struggled on the road, compiling a record of 6-10 away from South Bend. 

When reflecting on this season, Irish head coach Jay Louderback said he liked the way his team was able to put rough matches behind them and focus on the present. He also liked his team’s mentality during practice.

“I feel like this year’s team did a great job of playing one match at a time and not dwelling on any matches we lost,” Louderback said. “They always came out to practice every day and worked very hard.”

Irish senior Quinn Gleason prepares to hit a forehand during Notre Dame’s 6-1 victory over Indiana at Eck Tennis Pavilion on Feb. 20. Gleason held a 20-12 record, the second best on the Irish squad. Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish senior Quinn Gleason prepares to hit a forehand during Notre Dame’s 6-1 victory over Indiana at Eck
Tennis Pavilion on Feb. 20. Gleason held a 20-12 record, the second best on the Irish squad.

Notre Dame started its season in January, winning its first match of the season 7-0 against Western Michigan on January 19. The Irish then participated at the ITA Kickoff Weekend Tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma at the end of January. The Irish dropped two matches by identical 4-0 scores to Oklahoma State and Arizona State.

After that, the Irish won seven of their next eight matches, highlighted by wins against Big Ten opponents Illinois, Michigan, Purdue and Indiana as well as conference opponents Pittsburgh, Louisville and Boston College. The Irish went on a dry spell after that, however, and won only two of their next ten matches.

Louderback pointed to a stretch the Irish went through back on April 8-10 as the critical point of the season. During that time, the Irish had lost six of their previous eight matches and almost beat conference opponents Clemson and Georgia Tech without one of their best players — junior Monica Robinson.

“I think the turning point of the season was the weekend we lost 4-3 matches to Clemson and Georgia Tech with Monica Robinson out of the lineup with an injury,” Louderback said. “I think we realized how close we were to these teams without Monica and when she returned to the lineup we had our best wins of the season.” 

After those two matches, the Irish won two of their last three regular season contests and rode that momentum into the ACC tournament. The Irish won their first round matchup, 4-0, against Pittsburgh and then upset Clemson, 4-1, in the second round before falling to Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals, 4-0.

Louderback said his favorite match of the year was when the Irish beat Clemson in the ACC tournament because of the implications it had for his team in regards to the NCAA tournament.

“The win against Clemson was my favorite of the year since we had to have the win and they are a top-30 team,” Louderback said.  

Louderback also said he was proud of the seniors on the team — Quinn Gleason, Julie Vrabel, Alaina Roberts and Darby Mountford — and impact they had on the younger players.

“Our seniors put it on the line every match they played this year, which was a great example for our younger players,” Louderback said.  

The Irish will take on No. 25 UCLA on Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Whatever the outcome of the game, Louderback said he will remember this year’s team fondly.

“I will remember this year’s team as a very hard working group that bonded really well as a team,” Louderback said.

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