March 15, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — University of Notre Dame women’s tennis head coach Jay Louderback knew Boston College was hungry.
The Eagles fell to his Fighting Irish twice last season in Notre Dame’s entree into the Atlantic Coast Conference, including in the second round of the ACC Championships. Those only add fresh pain to the fact that Boston College had never beaten Notre Dame in 11 all-time meetings.
So it was no surprise, then, when the Eagles took the No. 28 Irish to the brink Sunday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion, a fact belied by the 5-2 final in favor of Notre Dame. In a match that stretched nearly five hours, the Irish (9-5, 4-2 ACC) needed five tiebreakers and three three-set singles matches to finally bring home the win, sealed by junior Quinn Gleason in a marathon match at No. 1 singles with two razor-thinmatch decisions remaining on the court.
“They really did a good job with their poise,” Louderback said. “Quinn … kept herself together the whole time.
“It’s big. Every ACC match win is really good. Everyone’s good. The teams that are at the bottom of the standings are very good. … Especially playing Friday and Sunday, we don’t get a whole lot of breaks, and a win like that is really good, especially down the road.”
Twice facing match point against No. 71 Jessica Wacnik, Gleason dug deep to deliver an impressive win for the Irish. After losing the first set 6-2, Gleason nearly let a 5-2 lead in the second set slip away before buckling down at 5-5 to win the next two games and force a third session. Gleason and Wacnik traded games in the third, and Gleason forced a tiebreaker ona break with Wacnik up 6-5.
The pair traded the first four points before Wacnik twice broke Gleason’s serve to go up 4-2. Gleason battled back to make it 4-all, but Wacnik again took two straight points to set up match point at6-4. But Gleason served to pull within one and then buried a pair of nifty drop shots out of Wacnik’s reach to put Notre Dame up 4-2 in the team score and sealthe win.
“I think I always play better when I know it’s down to me,” Gleason said. “I always try to keep track of what’s going on and I knew we needed one of the two matches (left on the court) and I tried to use that pressure to my advantage. … A win is always sweeter when they have match point, so I was thinking that I’ve got to fight, and it will be a better win if I pull it out.”
The getting there wasn’t so drawn out.
The Irish cruised en route to securing the doubles point, as the No. 55 duo of Allison Miller and Julie Vrabel downed Asiya Dair and Jennifer Ren, 8-1, at No. 2 doubles and Mary Closs and Jane Fennelly defeated Emily Safron and Katya Vasilyev, 8-3, at No. 3. On Court 1, Gleason and Monica Robinson were locked in a tight battle with Wacnik and Lexi Borr, but the match went unfinished with the Eagles leading 7-6 and the Irish going on serve.
Fennelly strolled to a quick 6-0, 6-4 win over Heini Salonen at No. 6 singles to put the Irish up 2-1 after Robinson fell to Borr 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2. Closs defeated Vasilyev at No. 4, coming back to win a first-set tiebreaker and easily winning the second set for a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory.
Boston College (8-7, 2-3 ACC) pulled back within one as No. 118 Dair came back to defeat Vrabel, 1-6, 6-2, 7-5. That left Gleason on Court 1 and Miller battling Safron at No. 5.
Miller had perhaps the toughest road for the Irish, facing three tiebreaker sets en route to her eventual victory. After dropping the first such chance, she forced a third set with a 7-6(4) win in the second and, playing on the court next to Gleason, took a bit of the pressure off the top of the order.
“Allie winning the second-set tiebreaker was big for Quinn,” Louderback said. “If she loses that tiebreaker, it’s all down to one match. I thought that helped us a lot, not only winning the second set, but being up in the third set the whole time.”
Miller went on to win 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 5-4(5) in a match that was cut short to ensure the Eagles made their flight back to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
The Irish will return to the state of Florida for the second time in two weeks when they take on Florida State at 3 p.m. EDT on Friday in Tallahassee. They’ll head north to Atlanta on Sunday, then, to face Georgia Tech at noon EDT. For the latest on all Irish women’s tennis action, follow @NDWomensTennis on Twitter and like Notre Dame Women’s Tennis on Facebook.
No. 36 Notre Dame 5, Boston College 2
1. Quinn Gleason (ND) def. No. 71 Jessica Wacnik (BC) 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(6)
2. Lexi Borr (BC) def. Monica Robinson (ND), 6-2, 6-3
3. No. 118 Asiya Dair (BC) def. Julie Vrabel (ND), 1-6, 6-2, 7-5
4. Mary Closs (ND) def. Katya Vasilyev (BC), 7-6(4), 6-3
5. Allison Miller (ND) def. Emily Safron (BC), 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 5-4(5)
6. Jane Fennelly (ND) def. Heini Salonen (BC), 6-0, 6-4
1. No. 21 Quinn Gleason / Monica Robinson (ND) v. Jessica Wacnik / Lexi Borr (BC), 6-7, unfinished
2. No. 55 Allison Miller / Julie Vrabel (ND) def. Asiya Dair / Jennifer Ren (BC), 8-1
3. Mary Closs / Jane Fennelly (ND) def. Emily Safron / Katya Vasilyev (BC), 8-3
Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant