ND Women’s Tennis
Gleason leads Irish into the season
Josh Dulany | Wednesday, August 27, 2014
For two years, Quinn Gleason has been one of Notre Dame’s best and brightest young stars. Now, it falls to the junior from Mendon, N.Y., to lead a team filled with a crop of new, young, talented players.
Sophomores Mary Closs and Monica Robinson each earned significant playing time last season, and coach Jay Louderback said he expects Notre Dame’s two newest recruits, Brooke Broda and Allison Miller, to contribute quickly. So, for Gleason, the season is one of transition. She said she knows her role must go beyond her play on the court and includes being an example to the younger players.
The Irish are coming off an up-and-down season where they scrapped their way to an 18-10 (8-6 ACC) record before going on a run to the Sweet 16, in which they upset 15th-seeded Northwestern. For her part, Gleason went 21-10 in singles matches and ascended the national ranks from 87th to 39th.
Louderback said he was impressed with Gleason’s efforts and thinks her progress only will continue.
“She had a great year in singles and doubles,” Louderback said. “She showed that she can play No. 1 for us, as she had some great wins, especially at North Carolina and Duke, over top-20, top-10 kinds of players. She’ll probably never have an easy match, but she can handle that. She has the experience of doing well in a tough conference, getting a win at the NCAA individuals. I think this a year where she can get even better.”
It will be a tough test, as the ACC features eight teams that advanced to last year’s NCAA championship, including national runner-up North Carolina. However, Gleason said last year has helped prepare her for the difficulty of what is ahead, and she hopes to be able to use the fall season as an opportunity to round into form for the spring.
“This fall season, I’m just hoping to keep improving my game,” Gleason said. “What I learned from last season is how important it is to be able to perform under pressure. I’m really looking forward to the tournaments this fall. The competition will be tough, so it will be good preparation for our spring season, and with one ACC season under our belts, everyone’s coming back a little more confident and experienced.”
That experience is what Louderback is counting on the most. Notre Dame’s team will feature five freshman and sophomores, so Louderback said Gleason’s role on the team is of utmost importance.
“The biggest thing is leadership. It’s something we really need after losing three seniors,” Louderback said. “The experience of getting to the final 16 was really good for this group. The young ones enjoyed it and want to get back, but it is really important to have players that have been around and can give young players leadership.”
Still, Gleason said she realizes that ultimately it all comes down to how she performs on the court. She was named the Midwest Player to Watch by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in May.
“This summer I really focused on improving my serve and I’m hoping to still make improvements as the season begins,” Gleason said. “I want to add some more power to my shots so that I can attack the net more aggressively. I have to be a leader off the court, but that starts with making sure I play well on it.”
This fall should be a great proving ground for Gleason and the Irish. It is a time for improvement, team-building and solidifying a line-up for the spring. Gleason’s ability to progress and continue to be successful will, by all accounts, make a huge difference in how successful the Irish can be in the spring, Louderback said. She says she is ready to take another step and be a leader, and her coach and team say they are eager to find out how far she can take them.