ND Women’s Tennis
Irish split pair against ranked opposition
Hunter McDaniel | Tuesday, February 10, 2015
No. 19 Notre Dame split a pair of matches against ranked foes this weekend, dropping a 6-1 decision to No. 8 Stanford on Friday before responding with a 4-3 win over No. 31 Ohio State on Sunday.
In Friday’s contest, Notre Dame (3-2) came out on top in only two of its nine matches, as the No. 3 doubles combination of sophomores Mary Closs and Jane Fennelly defeated Stanford juniors Krista Hardebeck and Lindsey Kostas, 6-3, however the Irish, who lost at both No. 1 and No. 2, could not secure the doubles point that was awarded to Stanford (4-0).
The only point the Irish were able to secure on Friday came from Closs, who topped Hardebeck at No. 4 singles, 6-2, 7-5.
Junior Quinn Gleason put the last two weeks in perspective when asked about the losses to two high-ranking opponents.
“I think playing tough teams like Michigan and Stanford helped get us ready to play Ohio State,” Gleason said. “Having the experience of playing such high-caliber players has made us a lot stronger as a team. I can definitely say I’ve learned a lot these past few weeks of competition, and I can tell my team has too by the increased intensity at practice and matches.”
The Irish responded on Sunday afternoon, first securing the doubles point before splitting singles with Ohio State (3-2).
At No. 2 doubles, junior Julie Vrabel and freshman Allison Miller won a tightly-contested match against Buckeyes freshmen Anna Sanford and Olivia Sneed that needed a tiebreaker to determine a victor, which the Irish duo won 8-6.
Then the No. 16-ranked duo of Gleason and sophomore Monica Robinson were able to pull out a close victory at No. 1 doubles against Ohio State sophomores Gabriella de Santis and Sandy Niehaus, 7-5, in order to secure the doubles point for Notre Dame and render the Closs/Fennelly match at No. 3 doubles unnecessary and therefore unfinished.
“Monica and I are looking to build off our win over the 26th-ranked doubles team from Ohio State,” Gleason said. “After losing a close match to the No. 6 team from Stanford, getting a win against a ranked team was really important for us.”
Robinson also said the win over de Santis and Niehaus offered perspective.
“I think that after our victory over Michigan [at No. 1 doubles], we went into the Stanford match with a lot of momentum and energy,” Robinson said. “We were really close against Stanford. We left that match with a good perspective because we put ourselves in a good position to win. On Saturday, the Ohio State [No. 1 doubles] team beat the Stanford team, so we saw it as another chance to get back at Stanford.”
In the singles portion against Ohio State, Notre Dame relied heavily on the top half of its lineup, as Gleason, Robinson and Vrabel won at Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, securing a 4-3 victory over the Buckeyes, who defeated the Irish at each of the other three singles slots.
After some intense play against Pac-12 and Big Ten opponents, the Irish are now closing in on conference play.
“We just need to continue what we’re doing,” Robinson said. “We’re really hardworking. Keeping up this energy is huge for us. Just seeing everything as a blessing and an opportunity every day is really important to us as a team.”
Gleason said she thinks the Irish are capable of performing well once conference play comes.
“The ACC teams we’ll play in the coming weeks will be tough, but I definitely think the team’s up for it,” Gleason said. “We’ve all been working really hard, and I think this year in particular we have a group that is scrappy and willing to fight to get back in matches when we’re down.”
Notre Dame will spend the week recovering and preparing for another busy weekend. The Irish will travel to Champaign, Illinois, for a Valentine’s Day matchup against No. 46 Illinois on Saturday before heading to Bloomington, Indiana, to face No. 52 Indiana on Sunday.