Dec. 6, 2013
By Phoenix Harris `14
Now in her final season at the University of Notre Dame, senior Julie Sabacinski wears many hats.
Most obviously, she is a hardworking athlete. Sabacinski ended her freshman year at Notre Dame with four-match winning streaks in both singles and doubles and has been a force to be reckoned with since. During her sophomore year, she competed in 52 matches in both singles and doubles for the Fighting Irish. Last year, as a junior, she earned an array of victories and honors, including being named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team.
For Sabacinski, working hard is a priority, but she insists it can also be fun.
“There are 7:00 a.m. workouts every Monday and Wednesday and practice everyday and running too. It’s like a job,” she says. “But at the same time it’s something I love to do and my teammates have been great throughout all my four years. Overall, it’s a lot of fun.”
And Sabacinski shows no signs of stopping.
“I usually play singles throughout most of the season. I’ve also been a pretty steady doubles player. I think this year will be my best one yet.”
Her constant hard work is what leads to her second role, one that she speaks of humbly.
Sabacinski is also a dedicated teammate. This is especially apparent when it comes to playing doubles. For the past two years she has been partnered with fellow senior Britney Sanders. The two actually began playing together in junior tennis when they were 15 years old.
“My favorite tennis moment would probably have to be when Britney and I were in the semifinals of regionals last year. We beat Northwestern, the 10th team in the country. It was a lot of fun to get into the finals,” she says. “Britney and I live together too. She’s one of my best friends.”
This year, Sabacinski predicts that she and Sanders will not work so closely on the court, but she is eager to play doubles with a new teammate.
“Nothing’s for sure yet, but as of right now I think I will be playing with freshman Mary Closs,” she explains. “I’m excited! I love all of the underclassmen on our team. They’re very unique in their own ways and have been a lot of fun to work with.”
Sabacinski sees her change in doubles partnership as a unique opportunity to mentor a younger teammate and also become a better player by getting a new perspective on the game.
“Mary is very open to suggestions and has a lot of her own. She’s also a lefty so that mixes things up too,” she says. “I’ve always focused on developing as a tennis player, but I also want to become a mentor to my underclassmen teammates. I’m a senior now, and I want to be positive and support them as much as I can.”
Sabacinski’s ability to offer guidance and gratefully embrace advice as well leads to another “hat” she wears. And it is one in which she wears proudly: loving older sister. Kenneth Sabacinski, her younger brother, is currently in his second year at Notre Dame and is also a player for the men’s tennis team.
“Having him here has been awesome. We get dinner probably once or twice a week. I make him go out to eat with me,” she says with a laugh.
Sabacinski says the two used to play mixed doubles together when they were little. Although there are no opportunities for them to compete together at the collegiate level, the bond of family and tennis still holds them together.
“He’s like a personal coach and it’s always been like that. He’s always helped and been positive and loving,” she explains. “I go to all of his tennis matches and he comes to all of mine. I really do love my little brother.”
A loving sister, dedicated teammate, and hardworking athlete – the roles Sabacinski takes on are truly many. And her commitment to all of them has allotted her a future full of possibilities.
As an accounting major in the Mendoza College of Business, Sabacinski has a fifth year and an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers on her horizons. She also hopes to keep tennis in her daily life post-graduation.
“You never know! I might still stay in the tennis world,” Sabacinski says. “I’ve always catered to the idea of being a college tennis coach or an assistant college tennis coach, but I don’t know if it’s in the cards or not. It definitely would be fun though.”
One thing she definitely sees “in the cards” for her future is the success of this year’s team.
“We have 12 girls this year, which I think is the most we’ve ever had and everyone that’s going to be in our lineup, regardless of singles or doubles, is a really good player,” Sabacinski says, beaming. “I really think that our team has the potential to be in the top 10 or even the top five this year.”
She may already have many accomplishments and roles to her name, but Sabacinski definitely wouldn’t mind adding top-10 team to her list. That hat would look pretty good on her.