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ND Women’s Tennis

Irish look to bounce back from loss to Tar Heels against Florida State

| Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Irish will look to pick up momentum heading toward the ACC tournament Thursday when they go on the road to face Florida State.

The Irish (16-5, 7-4 ACC) are having one of their most successful seasons in recent program history, but will need to bounce back off a recent 7-0 defeat at the hands of No. 3 North Carolina. Despite the difficult loss, Irish senior Monica Robinson said there were positives to take away from the matchup against the Tar Heels (22-2, 8-1).

Irish senior Mary Closs prepares to serve the ball during Notre Dame's 5-2 win over Purdue on Feb. 22 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish senior Mary Closs prepares to serve the ball during Notre Dame’s 5-2 win over Purdue on Feb. 22 at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“UNC has always been a top-five ranked team. I thought we all played our best out there,” Robinson said. “We took away something positive. Even though none of us won a match, we were there in each game and were there competitively. We have responded positively all year to small bumps in the road, whether it’s our bus breaking down or lineup changes, in every instance I feel like we accepted what life threw it us and worked through it together.”

The Irish have put the North Carolina result in the rear view mirror and have focused their attention exclusively on Florida State (12-8, 5-5). The Seminoles are riding a four-match win streak after defeating four ACC foes at home. However, they will be coming up against an Irish squad that is 8-0 on the road this season.

“Away matches require discipline and I consider our team to be a disciplined and self motivated group of girls,” Robinson said on the team’s perfect status on the road. “This team works through challenges and ambiguity. Against Virginia Tech, the weather was finicky and we weren’t sure whether we would play inside or outside, and we were able to mentally prepare ourselves for both.”

Notre Dame will lean on its veterans as it prepares to enter Tallahassee, Florida. Robinson and junior Brooke Broda will play No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, for the Irish on the singles court. Robinson comes into this week ranked as the 72nd ranked singles player in the NCAA, according to the ITA singles rankings, and Broda  has been a mainstay in the starting lineup over all three of her years at Notre Dame.

Florida State will look to match up against Robinson and Broda with junior Gabriella Castaneda and freshman Nandini Das. Castaneda is known nationally as a strong player, but has struggled of late, losing her last three matches. Das has turned in a strong season, but has lost two of her last three matches.

The Irish have much to play for in this matchup against Florida State. They have three matches left in their regular season, including the one against the Seminoles, and wins in all three would put them in position to be a top-four seed in the ACC tournament, which would allow them to secure a first-round tournament bye, according to Robinson.

“These next three matches are crucial,” Robinson said. “We’ve got a chance to be one of the high ranked seeds going into the tournament. Getting a bye and getting an early round rest could mean a lot. If we focus on getting these next three and going one match at a time, we’ll be in really strong position for the ACCs.”

The Irish will take on Florida State at the Speicher Tennis Center in Tallahassee, Florida, at 4 p.m. Thursday.

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