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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame women’s tennis trounces Northwestern, men fall to Illinois

While Notre Dame men’s tennis traveled to Champaign, Illinois on Saturday to take on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Fighting Illini, Notre Dame women’s tennis hosted the Northwestern University Wildcats in South Bend.

At the Eck Tennis Pavilion, the Notre Dame women cruised past Northwestern 6-1. Conversely, at the Atkins Tennis Center, the Notre Dame men were swept 7-0 by Illinois.

Notre Dame senior Page Freeman serves against Northwestern's Maria Shusharina on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Notre Dame senior Page Freeman serves against Northwestern's Maria Shusharina on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Notre Dame senior Page Freeman serves against Northwestern’s Maria Shusharina on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

In women’s doubles, Irish senior Page Freeman and sophomore Maria Olivia Castedo defeated the top Wildcat pair 6-2. After junior Julia Andreach and sophomore Carrie Beckman fell in a 6-1 match, junior Yashna Yellayi and freshman Rylie Hanford secured the doubles point for the Irish with a 6-3 victory.

In singles, Notre Dame, led by Freeman’s and Andreach’s straight-set wins, went on to prevail in five of six matches to finish out the afternoon. The weekend triumph lifts the Irish to 5-0 on the year at home and 7-1 overall, the program’s best start to a season in six years.

Head coach Alison Silverio, who is in her fifth season at the helm of Notre Dame women’s tennis, said she has been cultivating a certain mindset amongst her squad all season.

“Our mentality and what we’ve been focusing on this entire season has been: relentless competitors,” Silverio said.

Silverio reiterated the team’s stoic attitude — controlling the controllable and not worrying about the rest.

“We are focused on all the areas that we have control over and doing those to the best of our abilities from preparation to competing to studying,” Silverio said.

Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, Silverio admitted wariness about the Wildcats’ capabilities in doubles play. Fortunately, doubles has been the Irish’s strong suit this season as well.

“For [Northwestern] a strength has always been their doubles,” Silverio said. “We know coming out of the gates [on Saturday], we have to be ready … but doubles has also been a strength of ours this season.”

Though Silverio does stress the mental aspect of the game, she prioritizes taking care of the fundamentals when it comes to the physical side of things.

“As far as technique is concerned, [we’re focused on] efficiency with our footwork, that consistent contact point and consistent preparation,” Silverio said. “We just want to continue to do the basics better.”

Up next, the Notre Dame welcomes Big Ten foes Penn State and Wisconsin to the Eck Tennis Pavilion this upcoming weekend on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Conference play for the Irish commences Feb. 24, where Silverio and company play host to Georgia Tech.

Back on the men’s side, a 7-5 doubles victory by freshman Sebastian Dominko and senior Connor Fu was the lone highlight of the Irish’s trip into Illinois. In singles, four of six Notre Dame men were taken down in straight sets.

Saturday’s loss drops the Irish to 5-3 on the season. This weekend, Notre Dame heads back to the Prairie state for a chance at redemption, competing in the ITA National Indoor Championships in Chicago.