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ND Women’s Tennis: Freshman reaches final

By Vicky Jacobsen | Monday, November 12, 2012

Junior Britney Sanders became the two-time reigning Big East Player of the Month last week, but this weekend freshman birthday girl Quinn Gleason also commanded attention as the Irish closed out their fall season.

Gleason reached the finals in both the second flight singles and doubles draws at the Western Michigan University Super Challenge in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“Playing in the finals of singles and doubles this weekend was really exciting for me, especially since Saturday was my 18th birthday,” Gleason said. “The tournament was so much fun. As a whole I think our team played very well.”

Gleason did not take the easy route to the finals. In her first round match on Friday, she had to outlast sophomore Ksenia Pronina of Iowa State in the first set before finally winning 7-5. Gleason then swept the second set 6-0.

In Saturday’s semifinal match against No. 124 Rebecca Shine, a junior from Louisville, Gleason had to endure a third set and a tie-breaker before she eventually won 2-6, 6-2, 1-0 (11-9). Gleason ended her fall season with another tie-breaker, losing 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) to sophomore Jasmin Kling of DePaul.

Gleason and sophomore Katherine White missed out on a doubles title by a similarly close margin, losing 8-6 to Indiana sophomores Carolyn Chupa and Katie Klyczek. Still, Gleason said she and her teammates are pleased with their performances and their preparation for the spring, when they will compete as a team in conference and national tournaments.

“The fall season was an amazing experience for me,” Gleason said. “I’ve learned a lot that I’m sure will help me in my matches this spring.”

There were also highlights from Gleason’s teammates. Junior No. 106 Jennifer Kellner forced a third set in the consolation match of the first singles draw before falling to DePaul freshman Matea Cutura 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 (1-0). Freshman Darby Mountford competed in her first collegiate tournament, winning the consolation match of the seventh singles draw by dominating Penn State freshman Lisa Petruzillo, 6-0, 6-0.

Instead of joining the rest of the team at Western Michigan, Sanders and fellow junior and doubles partner Julie Sabacinski traveled to Florida to compete at the Lakewood Ranch Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic. Sanders said there were definite perks to playing at a tournament named after a well-known Irish fan even though they lost in the quarterfinals.

“[College basketball analyst] Dick Vitale’s daughters played tennis at Notre Dame and one of his daughters, Terri Vitale, was our housing parent,” Sanders said. “A lot of the families living in the area, including the Vitales, were huge Notre Dame fans so we had a lot of people cheering for us. Being so far away from home we didn’t think we’d have so many fans so it was an awesome experience.”

Since the tennis team usually travels as a whole, Sanders said it felt strange for her and Sabacinski to be separated from the rest of the team.

“Julie and I definitely missed our teammates,” Sanders said. “It got lonely at times, but we kept in contact with our group chats and snap chats.”

Sanders and Sabacinski also had to adjust to playing on an unfamiliar surface.

“The courts we played on were clay courts so it was extremely different from the hard courts we were used to,” Sanders said. “We have also been playing on indoor courts for a few weeks now so it was different playing in the tournament outside. It was difficult because we weren’t as prepared for this tournament as most of the other teams were. Most teams have been practicing outside on clay for a week or so whereas Julie and I only had two days to practice outside and one day to practice on clay. We did our best though, and had a lot of fun.”

The Irish have now concluded their fall tournament season. Their first competition of the new year will be a home dual meet against Bowling Green in the Eck Tennis Pavilion at 1 p.m. on Jan. 18.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu