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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The Observer

Irish take down No. 8 Miami, split Senior Day matches vs Florida State and Oakland

Notre Dame women’s tennis concluded its home slate with a trio of matches this weekend, including two major tests against ACC opponents. After picking up a huge win against No. 8 Miami on Friday, the Irish suffered a tight defeat against Florida State in the first half of Sunday’s doubleheader but bounced back to win their home finale against Oakland.

Notre Dame entered the weekend playing some of its best tennis of the season after earning a pair of road wins against Boston College and Syracuse the previous week, and the Irish carried that energy into the Miami match. In doubles, Julia Andreach and Yashna Yellayi kicked things off with a 6-2 win on court No. 2, and the No. 41 ranked pairing of Page Freeman and Maria Olivia Castedo took down Miami’s Daevenia Achong and Eden Richardson, ranked No. 20, by a score of 6-4 to give the doubles point to the Irish.

Heading into singles, the Irish continued their impressive play against a strong Miami team that featured three of the nation’s top 100 players. Freeman, ranked No. 90 in singles, was dominant in a 6-1, 6-3 victory on court No. 1 against Miami’s No. 48 Richardson. Soon after, Andreach won 7-5, 6-2 on court No. 2 against No. 28 Achong to give Notre Dame a 3-0 advantage, one point away from taking the match. Irish sophomore Meghan Coleman dropped a hard-fought three-set match on court No. 6, but a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win by freshman Nibedita Ghosh on court No. 4 clinched a Notre Dame victory.

With the win in hand, Notre Dame’s Castedo fell 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 on court No. 5, but the Irish were not done yet, as Yellayi emerged victorious from a 7-6, 5-7, 7-6 battle on court No. 3 to make the final score 5-2 in what was a statement victory against a top-ten opponent. Notre Dame head coach Alison Silverio was pleased with the mental fortitude that the team played with, regardless of the outcome.

“The piece that was most impressive was our fight and resiliency,” Silverio said after the match. “It’s always exciting to play great tennis, but at the end of the day, if we’re out there controlling the pieces that we can control, then I certainly believe that we’re going to be successful.”

They would need to bring that fight on Sunday, as the match against Florida State was tight throughout and went down to the wire. Before play began, though, Notre Dame honored Maeve Koscielski, the team’s lone senior, ahead of the final home matches of the season. Silverio spoke about the impact Koscielski has had on the team during her Irish career.

“[Koscielski] has had so much growth throughout her time and experiences here and she’s someone that has been a great leader and teammate with whom the girls can speak to and be supported by,” Silverio said. “She’s been a great example of hard work and dedication and we’re very grateful for her commitment to the program and to Notre Dame.”

As doubles play began, the Irish were unable to replicate the success they had against Miami and Florida State earned two quick wins to claim the opening point. Castedo was defeated 6-2, 7-5 on court No. 6, but wins from Yellayi (3-6, 6-4, 6-0) on court No. 3 and freshman Carrie Beckman (7-5, 7-6) on court No. 5 levelled the score at 2-2.

On court No. 1, Freeman battled for three sets against Florida State senior Petra Hule, ranked No. 6 in the nation, but ultimately fell in a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 nailbiter. Shortly after, Andreach pulled out a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory on court No. 2, leaving the 3-3 match to be decided on court No. 4, where Ghosh faced off against the Seminoles’ Lesedi Jacobs. The first two sets were split, each with scores of 6-3, before Jacobs claimed a 6-4 victory in the final set to win the match for Florida State.

Despite the painful loss, the Irish still had a chance to finish their home season on a positive note, as they faced Oakland shortly after the conclusion of the Florida State match. Notre Dame breezed through doubles play, as Freeman and Castedo won 6-1 on court No. 1 while Beckman and Ghosh did the same on court No. 3. In singles, the Irish altered their lineup from the previous matches in the weekend. Oakland picked up a tight win on court No. 1, but straight-set victories from Castedo, Coleman, Koscielski, freshman Katherine Bellia and sophomore Sydney Sforzo helped Notre Dame take home the 6-1 win.

Despite not getting the desired outcome against Florida State, Notre Dame’s high level of play over the last few weeks provides the team with an optimistic outlook as they head into the homestretch of the season.

“Having wins against a team like Miami is great and builds the confidence and belief in our program and in each of our players,” Silverio said. “It’s a great way to keep the momentum going into the postseason.”

The Irish (13-9, 5-6) will have two more chances to continue building that momentum before the ACC Tournament, as they hit the road this weekend to play Wake Forest and NC State in their final regular season matches.

“I’m fully confident in our team,” Silverio said. “As we continue to trust our preparation and make excellent choices each day, we will be more than prepared for battle on Friday and Saturday.”