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ND Women’s Tennis: Squad holds off late Illini surge

Vicky Jacobsen | Monday, January 21, 2013

It took a late win from senior Chrissie McGaffigan on an opposing court, but the Irish made it through their first weekend of dual play undefeated, sweeping Bowling Green 7-0 at home Friday and beating Illinois 4-3 on Sunday.

After securing the doubles point with wins by freshman Quinn Gleason and junior Britney Sanders and sophomore Molly O’Koniewski and junior Julie Sabacinski, the No. 19 Irish (2-0) and Illini split the first four singles matches at Illinois’s Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday. But with the outcome of the match in the balance, McGaffigan beat senior Breann Smutko in the third set, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, securing the fourth point and the Irish win. She also beat Bowling Green senior Mary Hill, 6-3, 6-2, on Friday.

O’Koniewski, competing in her first weekend of dual meets for Notre Dame, held off Illinois freshman Audrey O’Connor 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday afternoon, earning her second straight singles win. She beat Bowling Green freshman Katie Brozovich, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-8) on Friday.

Junior Jennifer Kellner was also undefeated on the weekend, beating Falcons’ senior Nikki Chiricosta 6-4, 6-3, and junior No. 59 Allison Falkin 6-3, 6-0.

Junior Britney Sanders, who is No. 58 in the nation and played in the No. 1 spot, defeated Bowling Green junior Emily Reuland 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) on Friday but fell to sophomore Melissa Kopinski 6-3, 6-3.

“I was sick this weekend, so I didn’t play my best,” Sanders said.

Despite feeling under the weather, Sanders said she was glad to get back to competing as a team.

“It was exciting to finally get back into the dual season,” Sanders said. “The fall season was fun, but it was all individual stuff. Having teammates playing beside you and competing as a team is much more exciting.”

Gleason and Sabacinski also picked up singles wins against the Falcons, beating seniors Maddy Eccleston and Jade Johnson, respectively.

Next weekend the Irish head to Lincoln, Neb., for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, where the Cornhuskers will host Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.

“I want to work on my aggressive game,” Sanders said. “Next weekend we’ll be playing tough teams so we have to work hard this week.”

The Irish will take on Georgia Tech at the Nebraska Tennis Center at 3 p.m. on Jan. 26.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]