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ND Women’s Tennis: Sabacinski impresses Irish

Katie Heit | Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On a team loaded with nationally established tennis players, freshman Julie Sabacinski is already making a name for herself in her inaugural campaign with the Irish. Sabacinski handily defeated her last two opponents as Irish coach Jay Louderback’s squad begins its spring season.

The Florida native joined the team this year straight off the four-time Florida state champion tennis team at American Heritage High School. She was the No. 9 recruit out of her home state and was one of the top-50 recruits in the 2010 graduating class. Last February, she and doubles partner Britney Sanders were named the girls 18-U doubles champions at the USTA Winter National Championships, where they entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed.

Sabacinski lost her first match of the season against Marisa Lambropoulos of Illinois, then gained momentum last weekend against Yale’s Kim Szokol and Arkansas’ Valentina Starkova. She was one of the strongest players for the team in both matches, recording two-set victories against the Bulldogs’ and Razorbacks’ No. 6 singles players.

With doubles partner Kristen Rafael, a senior, Sabacinski has gone 1-3, defeating only the No. 3 doubles pair from Yale. Louderback said that Sabacinski will be featured heavily in both singles and doubles competition throughout the season.

“The two freshman, Jennifer Kellner and Julie Sabacinski, are going to be in our singles and doubles line up. They’re going to have to get used to duel matches,” Louderback said. “It’s definitely a different atmosphere and as they go along I think they’ll do really well. I think they should fit in well. We had a couple of big holes to fill.”

Junior Kristy Frilling said that all the freshmen have the potential to fill the place that last year’s seniors left behind.

“It’ll be important for the freshmen to step up,” Frilling said. “Every match is important and we have a tough schedule and we travel a lot. We have to make sure we’re really ready to compete.”

Frilling was impressed with Sabacinski’s performance in the first week of competition and is looking to her, along with Kellner, to do big things for the team.

“Everyone just kind of got into the groove of things [against Illinois],” she said. “They are only going to continue to improve throughout the season.”

Sabacinski, Kellner and the rest of the Irish will be back in action this Saturday against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.