April 20, 2016
CARY, N.C. – A quick start in doubles gave the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team an early boost, and the Irish cruised to first-set victories on all six singles courts en route to a 4-0 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship at Cary Tennis Park.
The Irish were dominant from start to finish, erasing the memory of a nail-biting 4-3 victory over the Panthers on February 12. The win propelled 11th-seeded Notre Dame (13-12) into Thursday’s second round, where the Irish will meet sixth-seeded Clemson (10-9) at 10 a.m. ET.
It was a quick doubles point for the Irish, who breezed to 6-1 wins on Courts 2 and 3. Sophomores Brooke Broda and Allison Miller got the first win at No. 3 over Gabriela Rezoned and Natsumi Okamoto, while junior Mary Closs and senior Julie Vrabel downed Amber Washington and Callie Frey at No. 2 to clinch the point.
“First of all, we played really well in the doubles, ” Irish head coach Jay Louderback said. “We lost the doubles point to them earlier in the year. I think that really set the tone – not only winning, but winning so quickly. I think that really helped us going into the singles.”
It was smooth sailing from there as the Irish won the first set on all six singles courts to put the pressure on Pitt, including junior Monica Robinson, who came back from a 2-5 deficit on Court 2 to win the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6(5).
But the Irish would get the points they needed from the odd-numbered courts, winning at Nos. 1, 3 and 5 to put the match away. Forty-eighth ranked senior Quinn Gleason gave the Irish a 2-0 lead with her 6-2, 6-1 victory over Lolade Ogunbesan on Court 1, while Broda followed with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Rezoned on Court 5. No. 107 Miller clinched the match for the Irish with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Callie Frey on Court 3.
“Everyone did a really great job of staying calm no matter what happened, but still being aggressive,” Miller said. “Things can get kind of tight and I think everyone stayed really loose and relaxed and played the big points well today.”
“I feel like our kids did a really great job of winning some really big games and showed great poise out there today,” Louderback said. “
The Irish will next face Clemson, to which they fell in a tight 4-3 match on April 8 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish went up 3-0 in that match before the Tigers won the final four singles points to clinch the win. The Irish were missing Robinson that day, but the junior will be back in the lineup for the rematch.
“Again, doubles will be big,” Louderback said. “We’ll have some different match-ups this time because we played them before with Monica Robinson out. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ I think it will be a tight 4-3 match, which we ought to be used to.”
No. 47 Notre Dame 4, Pittsburgh 0
1. No. 48 Quinn Gleason (ND) def. Lolade Ogunbesan (Pitt) 6-2, 6-1
2. No. 83 Monica Robinson (ND) vs. Audrey Ann Blakely (Pitt) 7-6(5), 2-3, unfinished
3. No. 107 Allison Miller (ND) def. Callie Frey (Pitt) 6-2, 6-2
4. Mary Closs (ND) vs. Amber Washington (Pitt) 6-4, 6-6, unfinished
5. Brooke Broda (ND) def. Gabriela Rezende (Pitt) 6-1, 6-4
6. Jane Fennelly (ND) vs. Clara Lucas (Pitt) 6-3, 5-1, unfinished
1. No. 38 Quinn Gleason / Monica Robinson (ND) vs. Lolade Ogunbesan / Audrey Ann Blakely (Pitt) 3-3, unfinished
2. Mary Closs / Julie Vrabel (ND) def. Amber Washington / Callie Frey (Pitt) 6-1
3. Brooke Broda / Allison Miller (ND) def. Gabriela Rezende / Natsumi Okamoto (Pitt) 6-1
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.