Irish sweep Wake Forest
Josh Dulany | Sunday, March 30, 2014
No. 24 Notre Dame earned its second sweep of the week with a 7-0 victory over Wake Forest at home Sunday.
The Irish (10-8, 3-6 ACC) have started a five-match home stand with two crucial wins, and the victory over the Demon Deacons (11-8, 3-7) is their third straight triumph in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
A victory at the No. 1 doubles flight provided the Irish with momentum. Notre Dame’s top doubles pairing of senior Britney Sanders and sophomore Quinn Gleason fell behind 4-1 and then 5-4 before regrouping and winning four consecutive games to beat Wake Forest sophomores Xue Zhang and Kasey Gardiner, 8-5.
At the same time, Notre Dame seniors Jennifer Kellner and Julie Sabacinski rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take six consecutive games and ultimately earn the doubles point for the Irish with an 8-6 win.
Coach Jay Louderback said he was proud of the way his players maintained their composure.
“The doubles is key,” Louderback said. “If we go up 1-0, it’s hard for them to win four singles matches against us. So, two doubles being down 4-1 and coming back was probably the key for the match. Even though they started slow, they did a great job of not panicking.”
In singles, Notre Dame won on every court, but four of the matches were close contests. Sanders quickly dispatched Demon Deacon sophomore Andrea Retolaza, 6-0, 6-1, and Gleason also handily defeated freshman Kimmy Guerin, 6-3, 6-1, but Notre Dame’s other four players persevered through tough matches.
“We did a good job of fighting them off,” Louderback said. “Wake Forest played much better in the second sets. They competed really well, but I thought our kids handled it well and did a very good job of not letting them back in.”
Sophomore Julie Vrabel earned the fourth and decisive point with a hard-fought win over Zhang. Down early in the first set, she managed to force a tiebreaker that she ultimately won, 8-6, before pulling away in the second set to win by a score of six games to three.
With the match already clinched, the Irish still wrapped up the sweep. Freshman Mary Closs won her match in three sets, and Kellner followed suit in closing out the last match on the court. In between those two wins, freshman Monica Robinson earned a straight set victory after a long second set, which ended with Robinson winning the tiebreak 7-3.
Though pleased with the win, Louderback said he placed an emphasis on continued preparation as the season wears on.
“We just have to be ready,” Louderback said. “I feel like from here, in the rest of our conference matches, we’ll go into them favored, but that can sometimes be tougher. We just have to take care of business and compete like we have been.”
The Irish will look to do just that as they continue their home stand this Friday against Maryland, before facing Pittsburgh on Sunday. Friday’s match starts at 4:00 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.