Irish split up to gain experience
Zach Klonsinski | Monday, November 10, 2014
Notre Dame wrapped up its fall season over the weekend as the team split up to participate in its final two tournaments.
The Irish sent the doubles pair of junior Quinn Gleason and sophomore Monica Robinson to Flushing, New York, for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships while the rest of the team headed north to the Western Michigan University Super Challenge.
The trip to the National Indoor Championship was the second national tournament of the fall for Gleason and Robinson, as they participated in the All-American Invitational in Pacific Palisades, California, at the end of September. The pair was knocked out in the Round of 32 this weekend by Barry University’s team of senior Linda Fritschken and junior Emma Onila, 6-4, 7-5. Although they did not make it as far as they had hoped, Robinson said it was still a good trip.
“I thought it was a great experience,” Robinson said. “I thought this whole fall season, just traveling to Nationals and Regionals, it was just really good experience for us. Just being there in the mix with these top players from all over and getting the opportunity to play and get different players and player types, it was good.”
The two had never played together before Irish coach Jay Louderback paired them up at the start of the fall season, but they have developed a good feel for each other’s games on the court, Robinson said.
“It’s nice working with [Quinn] because we are both really competitive and we both want to do really well,” Robinson, the younger of the pair said. “We both push ourselves. Sometimes we’re a little too hard on ourselves, but we’re both very motivated.”
Gleason and Robinson bounced back from the loss to Barry with two victories during consolation play in straight sets, defeating teams from Kentucky and Virginia.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team traveled to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the final action of the fall season at the WMU Super Challenge. The Irish doubles teams found success on the court, as the team of sophomore Jane Fennelly and senior Katherine White went 3-1 over the tournament, beating two teams from Marquette and another from Indiana. Sophomore Mary Closs guided freshman partner Brooke Broda through the freshman’s first collegiate match, compiling a 3-1 record as well. The duo of junior Julie Vrabel and Notre Dame’s other freshman, Allie Miller, also went 3-1 on the weekend.
“It was really fun playing with [Broda],” Closs said. “She’s a lefty also so we had two lefties out there which gave us an advantage with serving. She’s really smart on the court, so doubles was fun working strategy on the court.
“Both [Miller] and [Broda] are really hard-working, dedicated. They’ve put a lot of hours in and I think that rubs off on everyone. I think everyone has put in extra hours this fall that’ll pay off in the spring.”
“We’ve got two freshmen who absolutely love to be on the court,” Robinson said.
On the singles side, Closs, Vrabel, Miller and Fennelly all posted 2-1 records, while juniors Darby Mountford and Alaina Roberts both finished 1-2.
When asked in separate interviews what they thought the team’s strengths were after the 2014 fall season, both Closs and Robinson responded with similar answers.
“I think our strengths [are] our hard work and [that] we mesh really well as a team,” Closs said.
“I’d say our hard work and persistence [are our strengths],” Robinson said. “Also our bond. We’re all close and we trust each other, and we’re friends off the court, and that just makes all the difference.”
As the schedule moves into the brief off-season period before dual-matches pick up in January, Robinson said she and her teammates are eager for the possibilities the upcoming 2015 season holds.
“I’m really excited,” Robinson said. “I think we a have a lot of potential, and I think that if we work together and really build each other up, I feel like we could do really well. I mean, the sky’s the limit, I feel. We did really well last year, making it to the Sweet 16, and I feel like this year, why not win it?”
The Irish will rest and continue to work in practice as they ready for their spring season opener Jan. 17, when they welcome Western Michigan to the Eck Tennis Pavilion.