May 29, 2014
By Staci Gasser
The game of tennis brought upcoming seniors Molly O’Koniewski and Katherine White together when they were 10 years old.
Each with parents who played collegiate tennis, they met again at a tennis academy in Hilton Head, S.C. as high schoolers.
Now they are teammates on the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team and will be assuming the leadership roles next season as the squad’s only two seniors.
“I’m looking forward to senior year with Molly,” White says. “She has been a great leader on and off the court. I hope to help her in the leadership role.”
“The seniors before us have done a great job of bringing intensity to every practice and determination to every match,” O’Koniewski adds. “I’m ready to have a good year next season.
“Katherine has always been a good friend. She showed me the ropes of Notre Dame after I transferred [from the University of Virginia].”
The two native southerners (O’Koniewski is from South Carolina, White is from Georgia) only played once together this season when head coach Jay Louderback switched up the double teams midseason, and they enjoyed the blast from the past.
“We played together before college,” O’Koniewski explains. “We compliment each other-Katherine has a great serve and backhand, and I prefer forehand.”
Not only do they compliment each other with their hitting styles, but they both have an equally competitive spirit and positive attitudes.
The girls have contributed to a successful year for the Irish squad. The team made history with its first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship win against Boston College (4-0). They were knocked out of the quarterfinals by No. 2 seed Miami (4-2) after two long weather delays. Although the loss was a tough one, the girls saw much improvement, as it was a much closer match than when the teams met earlier in the season.
The team was then selected to the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships for the 19th consecutive year and was one of eight teams from the ACC to earn a bid.
Ranked 27th in the nation, the Irish swept DePaul (4-0) and upset Northwestern (4-3) in the NCAA Regional. They fell 4-2 to No. 2 Alabama, White’s mother’s alma mater, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship.
O’Koniewski and White will both take the experience and use it to lead their teammates next season.
“I hope to contribute to the team as much as I can and keep everyone motivated about the season,” White says. “It’s going to be a long one.”
“I hope to work even harder next season and show even more energy,” O’Koniewski adds.
The seniors are both appreciative for the experience that Notre Dame has given them.
“It has built me into the person I am,” White says. “It has shaped my character because I’m around people with high values. Notre Dame is such a unique experience and I have loved every minute of it.”
“It has been a great experience,” O’Koniewski said. “Being part of the Notre Dame family: it’s all true.
“It’s been a great year, and it will be another great year next season.”
O’Koniewski is majoring in American Studies in the College of Arts and Letter and minoring in Business. White is majoring in Marketing in the Mendoza College of Business and minoring in Studio Art.