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ND Women’s Tennis: McGaffigan caps Irish comeback against Iowa

Katie Heit | Monday, February 4, 2013

After falling behind early, the Irish turned their match around with a three-point comeback and defeated Iowa 4-3 on Monday.

Notre Dame started well, with freshman Quinn Gleason and junior Britney Sanders claiming victory at No. 2 doubles in an easy 8-3 win.

From there, the team began to fall apart.  Sophomore Molly O’Koniewski and junior Julie Sabacinski were crushed in their doubles match, losing 8-3.

Shortly after, the co-captain doubles team of junior Jennifer Kellner and senior Chrissie McGaffigan fell behind in a close 8-6 loss, giving the Hawkeyes the doubles point.
Sanders said the Irish fell behind early due to exhaustion from their close win over Tennessee on Sunday.

“We were tired, but we were able to pull it out,” Sanders said.

Down 1-0, the Irish looked to make a comeback in singles play, but Iowa quickly pulled further ahead. Sanders finished her match first, dropping it 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 singles. Sabacinski brought her match to three sets, but lost 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

Sanders said the Irish needed a change in attitude to come back from behind.

“We were pretty down,” Sanders said. “What got us back into it was changing our attitudes. We started being more positive and we were cheering each other on like crazy.”

With the game 3-0, O’Koniewski began the rally for the Irish. Her 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 victory at No. 6 singles finally put the Irish on the board.

Gleason shortly added to the Irish comeback. After dropping her first set, Gleason snatched the victory 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). Not long after, Kellner won 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

With only one match left to finish, the Irish had come from behind to tie the Hawkeyes 3-3.

McGaffigan kept her composure in the long match against Hawkeye sophomore Katie Zordani and managed to clinch the win for the Irish with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory at No. 4 singles.

The final set was close, with McGaffigan taking an early 4-2 lead. Zordani closed the gap and the score stood at 5-4 with McGaffigan in the lead. After a long final point, McGaffigan finally won the final set. Her victory clinched Notre Dame’s second victory in a row.

McGaffigan said she was proud to win the deciding match for her team.

“It was a great feeling being able to pull my match out for my team,” McGaffigan said. “We all work so hard in practice and fight with everything we have in matches.”

McGaffigan said she was proud of how her teammates were able to cheer each other on from their own individual courts and encourage the Irish to fight back and win.

The Irish are back in action Feb. 15 when they take on Purdue at home at 4 p.m.

Contact Katie Heit at [email protected]