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ND Women’s Tennis

‘Looking forward for what’s to come’: Irish find toughness amid adversity

| Friday, May 13, 2022

Notre Dame women’s tennis knew all along that this year would bring challenges. Coming off a season that ended with a losing record, and with a roster comprised almost entirely of underclassmen, the Irish expected adversity and chose to face it head-on, never backing down and using it as an opportunity.

“I feel our biggest growth this season has been our emotional maturity out on the courts, just dealing with different situations that arise, different adversities, being able to manage those tough moments,” Irish head coach Alison Silverio said. “With a young team, obviously you have to go through those challenging times and those adverse times to figure out some things and really learn some great lessons.”

That mentality helped Notre Dame’s early-season performance belie the team’s relative inexperience, as they went on two separate three-match winning streaks during non-conference play. In February, the Irish dominated No. 16 Washington in a 5-2 victory, winning four singles matches in straight sets.

Silverio said that a commitment to consistent hard work on the practice courts is what allows the team to thrive in big moments. Regardless of the outcome, the Irish always maintain the same focus, trusting that results will naturally follow.

“We’ve been taking every day and every match this season as an opportunity to get better,” Silverio said. “Our team and our coaching staff are very confident in our preparation and in our training. We trust the process that we have been following this season.”

After starting the season strong with a 7-3 record, the inception of ACC play brought a challenging stretch of opponents. In the opening week of the conference slate, the Irish were defeated by top-5 teams North Carolina and Duke. Despite the outcome, there were clear signs of their season-long progress. Junior Page Freeman earned ACC Player of the Week honors for her performance in the matches. Freeman, ranked No. 87 nationally in singles, was a standout for the Irish, consistently battling nationally ranked players in the No. 1 singles spot while also forming the No. 20-ranked doubles pairing with freshman Maria Olivia Castedo.

The Irish soon began to hit their stride, winning five of their next ACC eight matches, with doubles play proving to be a strength of the team. Along with Freeman and Castedo, freshmen Carrie Beckman and Nibedita Ghosh were an effective pairing for the Irish. Sophomore Julia Andreach, ranked No. 105, was a crucial contributor in singles, matching Freeman for the team lead with thirteen wins during the year.

Notre Dame’s marquee victory came in a 5-2 win against No. 8 Miami, which included three singles wins against top-100 ranked players. Later in the weekend, the Irish dropped a tight match against Florida State, but Silverio praised the team’s toughness, crediting both matches with helping to develop the team’s “champion mindset.”

The Irish entered the ACC Tournament with a 13-11 record, 5-8 in ACC play, earning the ninth seed and a first-round rematch against eighth-seeded Florida State in Rome, Georgia. The Seminoles came away with a 4-0 victory, knocking Notre Dame, ranked No. 42 nationally, out of the tournament.

While the Irish missed the NCAA Tournament this year, after a year in which Silverio says that the team developed on the court as well as “in the classroom and in their social and professional lives,” the Irish program carries a strong sense of optimism into the future while understanding that the work needed to reach their goals is just beginning.

“It’s fun to finally see that growth and [we’re] looking forward for what’s to come,” Silverio said. “The next step for us is continuing to keep that confident presence, keep that confident body language, and be able to do it match in and match out.”

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