ND Women’s Tennis
Irish thrash Nittany Lions, falter versus No. 22 Badgers
After last weekend’s dominant win over Northwestern, the Irish women’s tennis squad came back this Friday and Sunday to host Penn State and Wisconsin, respectively. On Friday, the Irish dominated the Nittany Lions, 4-1, before falling Sunday, 5-2, to the No. 22 Badgers.
“Our biggest takeaway was understanding we need to keep our foot on the gas and close the door. Better teams are going to continue to press us,” Irish head coach Allison Silverio said. “In those pressure moments, whether it’s a deuce point or deep in the second or third set, we have to keep our foot on the gas and be relentless with fundamentals.”
The Irish started their weekend by sweeping the doubles point against Penn State. Senior Page Freeman and freshman Bojana Pozder defeated Sofiya Chekhlystova and Carla Girbau, 6-3, at No. 1 doubles. Junior Julia Andreach and sophomore Carrie Beckman won with similar dominance, 6-2, to clinch the doubles point. Junior Yashna Yellayi and freshman Rylie Hanford did not finish their match.
At singles, Freeman continued her dominance at the No. 1 singles spot. Ranked 91st in the country, Freeman handled Chekhlystova in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7). Andreach and Yellayi also won in straight sets. Andreach took down Yvonne Zuffova 6-4, 7-5, and Yellayi won both sets by identical 6-3 scorelines. Pozder and fellow freshman Akari Matsuno didn’t get to finish their matches as the Irish clinched the overall victory. Their only loss came when Beckman fell in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, to Olivia Dorner.
“Great victory. Penn State came in ready to play and gave us their best. We did a great job coming out firing in doubles, and we were able to carry that over to our singles,” Silverio said. “The way we consistently played the pressure points well was something that brought us the victory.”
The Irish improved to 8-1 with the dominant showing on Friday, but they didn’t fare as well against the top-25 Badgers. The Irish fell to 1-2 against ranked teams this year. They did start off strong by claiming the doubles point. Beckman and Andreach won 6-4 while the Yellayi/Hanford pairing secured the point with a 7-5 victory.
“Aggressiveness has been one of the fundamentals we wanted to take ownership of this season. The three teams that have regularly been in the lineup have become dominating teams,” Silverio said. “The partnership and chemistry they have out there, it’s been awesome to see.”
When singles play opened, it looked like the Irish would continue their streak. Both Freeman and Andreach took the first set of their matches. Freeman won 6-2, and Andreach won hers, 6-4. It was then though that the Irish began to lose steam. Andreach won just three games in the next two sets and dropped the match at court No. 2. Freeman couldn’t bring it home against the 57th-ranked Ava Markham. She lost the ensuing two sets, 3-6, 4-6. Elsewhere, The Badgers took home three more singles wins to claim the 5-2 win.
“Wisconsin is a really talented team, they’ve had a very successful season. We knew it was going to be a great battle. We came out punching fast in doubles and had some really good momentum going into singles,” Silverio noted. “Just couldn’t quite keep that momentum. Credit to Wisconsin, they stayed the course. They just edged us out. A great lesson for us. We love the challenge, competing against the strongest teams in the country. We’re certainly going to have that in the ACC.”
Matsuno continued her early-season dominance with a 6-3, 6-0, win at No. 6 singles. Notre Dame is 8-0 on the season at No. 6 singles, sparked by a 5-0 record from Matsuno. Between Matsuno, Pozder and Hanford, the Irish freshman trio has sparked a veteran-led squad this season. Matsuno and Pozder have a combined 12-3 singles record. Hanford’s doubles partnership with Yellayi has resulted in a 7-1 record.
“All three of our freshmen have been making a major impact… they just brought an excitement and an enthusiasm to our team,” Silverio commented. “All three have committed to our values in our program…with their competitive spirit, their attention to detail… they love competing for each other, for the team and for Notre Dame.”
The Irish next take to the court on Friday for their first official ACC match-up of the season against Georgia Tech. The first serve will be at 3:30 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.