May 10, 2014
#28 Notre Dame 4, #16 Northwestern 3
Vandy Christie Tennis Center Evanston, Ill.
EVANSTON, Ill. - Notre Dame ended Northwestern's streak of 10 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 with a 4-3 victory on Saturday in the regional final held at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center.
A four and a half hour marathon match with a trip to Athens, Ga. came down to the match at No. 6 singles between Nida Hamilton and Julie Vrabel. Hamilton won the first set 6-3, but Vrabel sent it into a third with a 6-3 win in the second set. Hamilton fought off several match points in the third set, eventually sending it into a tiebreak. She jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but Vrabel fought back to capture a 9-7 victory in the tiebreaker.
The Fighting Irish advance to the NCAA Round of 16 next week. Notre Dame will play the tournament's second-seed Alabama. The Crimson Tide defeated Princeton 4-2 in the regional final held in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Doubles play could not have been closer than it was on Saturday between NU and the Irish. With a trip to Athens on the line, neither team was willing to let the match's first point get away, and all three doubles matches went to a tiebreak.
Belinda Niu and Brooke Rischbieth overcame an early deficit to send their match at No. 3 into a tiebreak where they dominated to the tune of a 7-0 victory to make the final score 8-7. The Wildcats looked to have it locked up with Veronica Corning and Alicia Barnett beating the 12th-ranked duo in the country of Britney Sanders and Quinn Gleason, 7-3. Sanders and Gleason rattled off four straight points to send the match at No. 1 into a tiebreak and won it 7-5.
Winning the point came down to the match at No. 2 with NU's Nida Hamilton and Maddie Lipp taking on Jennifer Kellner and Julie Sabacinski. In the tiebreak, Hamilton and Lipp held off a Notre Dame comeback attempt to win 8-7 (5).
The Irish tied the match with Britney Sanders' upset of No. 43 Veronica Corning in the first singles spot. Sanders won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
Belinda Niu made quick work of Quinn Gleason at No. 2 for her 100th career victory. The senior won 6-1, 6-3.
Notre Dame refused to go away as Monica Robinson took down Manon Peri at No. 4 singles by a 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 score to tie the overall match at two. But Lok Sze Leung put the `Cats right back in front with a 7-6, 6-3 win at No. 5 over Mary Closs.
The Fighting Irish came from behind to win the final two matches of the afternoon. Jennifer Kellner erased a 4-1 third-set deficit to Alicia Barnett, scoring five straight to win 6-4 and tie the match at three. Vrabel won it for Notre Dame soon after, eliminating the Wildcats from the NCAA tournament.
Northwestern will send three players to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships in Athens, Ga. on May 21. Corning and Niu qualified for singles competition, while Corning and Barnett will pair up in the doubles tournament.
No. 1 - Britney Sanders (ND) def. #43 Veronica Corning (NU), 6-4, 6-3
No. 2 - #35 Belinda Niu (NU) def. #39 Quinn Gleason (ND), 6-1, 6-3
No. 3 - Jennifer Kellner (ND) def. Alicia Barnett (NU), 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
No. 4 - Monica Robinson (ND) def. Manon Peri (NU), 6-1, 1-6, 6-1
No. 5 - Lok Sze Leung (NU) def. Mary Closs (ND), 7-6 (4), 6-3
No. 6 - Julie Vrabel (ND) def. Nida Hamilton (NU), 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7)
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 4, 5, 3, 6*
No. 1 - #12 Britney Sanders / Quinn Gleason (ND) def. #29 Veronica Corning / Alicia Barnett (NU), 8-7 (5)
No. 2 - #89 Nida Hamilton / Maddie Lipp (NU) def. Jennifer Kellner / Julie Sabacinski (ND), 8-7 (5)
No. 3 - Belinda Niu / Brooke Rischbieth (NU) def. Mary Closs / Molly O'Koniewski (ND), 8-7 (0)
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2*
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