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ND Women’s Tennis

Notre Dame drops pair to close out regular season

| Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Irish fell in their last two matches of the regular season, dropping a 5-0 decision to No. 21 Clemson on Friday and a 4-1 game against No. 23 Duke on Sunday.

While Notre Dame (14-9, 8-6 ACC) was not able to record a win over the weekend, junior Quinn Gleason said the results will help ready the team for postseason play.

“The ACC is the toughest conference in college tennis,” Gleason said. “Playing these two tough teams will help to prepare us for the type of competition we’ll face at ACCs.”

On Friday afternoon, the Irish traveled to Clemson, South Carolina, to take on the Tigers (15-8, 10-4) in their final road match of the regular season.

Clemson snatched the early lead by taking the doubles point in a quick manner. Tigers senior Jessy Rompies and graduate student Yuilynn Miao beat Irish freshman Allison Miller and junior Julie Vrabel, 8-4, at No. 2 doubles while junior Tristen Dewar and senior Beatrice Gumulya cruised to an 8-2 win for Clemson over Notre Dame sophomores Mary Closs and Jane Fennelly at No. 3.

From there, Notre Dame was forced to run through Clemson’s singles lineup, which boasts three players in the top 60 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles rankings.

And much like last weekend’s home match against Miami, the Irish and the Tigers began the singles portion of the afternoon outside at Hoke Sloan Tennis Center before rain forced the match to be finished indoors.

The Tigers, led by 14th-ranked junior Joana Eidukontye at No. 3 singles and 36th-ranked senior Romy Koelzer at No. 1, recorded straight-set wins over the Irish on Courts 1 through 4. With the match decided, the singles matches at No. 5 and No. 6 were left unfinished.

After losing its final road match of the season, Notre Dame returned home to face Duke (16-8, 11-3) in the season finale Sunday afternoon at Courtney Tennis Center.

The match was preceded by a short ceremony to honor the two Irish seniors, Katherine White and Molly O’Koniewski, thanking them for their contributions to the team since they arrived on campus four years ago.

“We are really going to miss the seniors,” Gleason said. “It’s really been an honor playing on the team with these two the past three years. I’ve learned so much from each of them on and off the court.”

While the Irish were back at home, the result was not much different from Friday’s game.

Miller and Vrabel fell 8-4 to the Blue Devils’ pairing of junior Beatrice Capra and freshman Samantha Harris while Closs and Fennelly lost 8-2 to senior Annie Mulholland and sophomore Chalena Scholl. Though the 22nd-ranked Irish tandem of Gleason and sophomore Monica Robinson were leading 5-3 on Court 1, the match was left unfinished with the doubles point already decided in Duke’s favor.

The singles portion started off strong for Duke as they extended their lead with quick victories over Gleason and Fennelly. However, Vrabel fought Harris in a fierce second-set tiebreak but ended up losing, 6-2, 7-6(9).

With the Blue Devils up 4-0, the match was already decided. But the singles matches carried on, as Robinson, Closs and Miller all fought into third sets, with Miller able to finish out her comeback victory over Scholl, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Though Robinson and Closs both were leading in the third set, their matches were left unfinished in order to allow the Blue Devils to honor their original travel plans.

With the loss, Notre Dame fell to seventh in the ACC standings in advance of this weekend’s ACC championships, where it will have a first-round bye.

Gleason said the Irish needed to improve their doubles play heading into the postseason after this weekend’s struggles.

“These next few days in practice before the tournament we need to focus on our doubles,” Gleason said. “We’ve been winning the doubles point pretty consistently throughout the season, but this weekend we struggled. The doubles point is so crucial so if we work hard these next few days, that will really be a factor in how we do in North Carolina.”

Notre Dame will take on the winner of a first-round matchup between Florida State and Pittsburgh on Thursday at noon in Cary, North Carolina, in the ACC tournament.

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