March 5, 2017
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The No. 27 University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team hit the midpoint of its season Sunday but showed no signs of slowing down, winning its eighth straight match and remaining undefeated in Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 5-2 victory over Syracuse at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
How It Happened
The Irish (11-1, 4-0 ACC) took the doubles point, holding off a surge by the Orange (3-7, 1-2 ACC) to win matches on Courts 2 and 3. Notre Dame held 4-1 leads on Courts 1 and 2 before Syracuse made runs at each position. At No. 2, junior Allison Miller and senior Mary Closs held on to win 6-4 over Maria Tritou and Libi Mesh, but Syracuse completed the comeback at No. 1 with Gabriela Knutson and Miranda Ramirez defeating junior Brooke Broda and senior Monica Robinson. Notre Dame clinched the point on Court 3, with senior Jane Fennelly and freshman Zoe Spence recording a 6-3 victory over Dina Hageb and Anna Shkudun.
Syracuse evened the score with the first decision in singles, with Knutson defeating Miller 6-1, 6-2 at the No. 3 spot. The Irish had won first sets on four of the remaining courts, however, and quickly made up ground by closing out straight-set victories in the next three decisions.
Closs started things off with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Tritou at the No. 5 spot, followed by Robinson’s 6-3, 6-1 victory over Shkudun at No. 1. Spence clinched the victory at the No. 4 position, winning 6-4, 6-2 over Mesh for her team-leading 11th dual win of the season.
The Irish extended the lead with a win on Court 6, as sophomore Rachel Chong defeated Dina Hageb 6-3, 6-2 before Syracuse tacked on a point with a win at the No. 2 spot.
Coach Jay Louderback’s Thoughts
On playing with confidence after winning a tight match on Friday…
“Winning the doubles point makes a big difference. I thought that really helped us. We played pretty loose and confident after that.”
On the hot start to the season and comparing to previous years…
“We just want to win, we don’t think about that at all. I do think playing in so many tight matches last year is helping us this year. Even in this match, it didn’t look like a close match, but it was. In some of those matches, if we didn’t win the first sets, it’s a whole different game.”
On stepping up in big situations…
“I think having a year where a lot of them have played no-ad, they’re playing the big points much better. Not even the deuce points, but being up 40-30 or down 40-30, and they’re playing those points much, much better. A lot of it is just experience.”
On the attitude of the team…
“We’ve got a really good attitude. These guys are really close and we’ve got three seniors that are very, very close. That’s something that’s been a positive for us because they’ve done a good job with leadership. I just feel like everybody’s on the same page and we’re just competing much better; everybody on the court just competes very well.”
- The Irish improved to 11-1 on the season, which is the program’s best start since beginning the 2010 season 12-1. The 2010 team finished the season with a 26-4 record and reached the semifinal of the NCAA Championship.
- Freshman Zoe Spence picked up her 11th dual singles win of the season, which leads the team. She is 16-5 in singles going back to the fall.
- Senior Mary Closs improved to 8-0 in dual singles play.
- Senior Monica Robinson bumped up her record to 9-1 and is on pace for the best singles season of her career.
- Closs and junior Allison Miller improved to 7-3 in doubles play.
The Irish will have more than a week off before returning to action, next facing Richmond at 2:30 p.m. ET on Monday, March 13, to kick off a three-match week during Spring Break on the East Coast.
Notre Dame 5, Syracuse 2
March 5, 2017
Eck Tennis Pavilion
Notre Dame, Ind.
1. Monica Robinson (ND) def. Anna Shkudun (SU) 6-3, 6-1
2. Miranda Ramirez (SU) def. Brooke Broda (ND) 6-4, 4-6, 10-3
3. Gabriela Knutson (SU) def. Allison Miller (ND) 6-1, 6-2
4. Zoe Spence (ND) def. Libi Mesh (SU) 6-4, 6-2
5. Mary Closs (ND) def. Maria Tritou (SU) 7-5, 6-2
6. Rachel Chong (ND) def. Dina Hageb (SU) 6-3, 6-2
1. Gabriela Knutson / Miranda Ramirez (SU) def. Brooke Broda / Monica Robinson (ND) 6-4
2. Allison Miller / Mary Closs (ND) def. Maria Tritou / Libi Mesh (SU) 6-4
3. Jane Fennelly / Zoe Spence (ND) def. Dina Hageb / Anna Shkudun (SU) 6-3
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant 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 and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.