Feb. 18, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 15th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team won 7-0 against #22 Tennessee (2-4) Saturday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish – off to a 6-0 start for the first time since 1990-91 – will continue a stretch of six consecutive matches against top-30 opponents (in which they are 4-0) by playing host to #9 Harvard on Sunday at 10 a.m. (EST) in the Eck Pavilion. Saturday marked Notre Dame’s first win over the Lady Vols since 1998, as well as just the second time ever that the Irish won 7-0 (or 9-0 under the old scoring format) against a top-25 team.
The Irish swept the doubles matches for the fifth time in six contests this spring, improving to 17-1 in partnered play in dual action. Notre Dame then earned straight-set victories at Nos. 1, 3, 4, and 5 to clinch the win and added match-tiebreaker triumphs at Nos. 2 and 6 to secure its first-ever shutout in 17 all-time meetings with Tennessee.
Notre Dame – the only Division I squad with three nationally-ranked teams – lost just seven total games in doubles en route to winning the doubles point for the sixth time in as many contests this spring. ND squads have now dropped three games or fewer in 12 of the 18 matches this spring. First done for the Irish was the top-ranked team in college tennis, junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), who won 8-1 against Melissa Schaub and Ghizela Schutte at No. 1. It was the fifth time this season that the Notre Dame sisters lost just one game or fewer in a match, as they improved to 10-2 on the season (5-1 dual at No. 1). The Thompsons also have won six in a row at home.
Sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.), ranked 35th, earned their ninth consecutive victory by beating Blakeley Griffith and Victoria Jones 8-3 at No. 2. That UT squad had been 5-0 this spring at No. 2, while Buck and Tefft clinched the doubles point for the third time this season and improved to 16-2 overall in 2005-06 (6-0 dual at No. 2).
Notre Dame seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) completed the sweep by beating Stephanie Harris and Samantha Orlin 8-3 at No. 3. The Irish veterans moved to 6-0 this spring in dual play at No. 3 and now lead the team in overall doubles victories with a 17-5 record.
Stastny was first off in singles, defeating the freshman Harris 6-3, 6-1 at No. 5 for her career-high eighth consecutive victory. She is now 15-4 on the season, including 6-0 in dual matches.
Next done was 24th-ranked Catrina Thompson, who downed Jones – a native of the United Kingdom who was ranked 75th in the preseason – 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1. That imporoved her record to 15-6 this season, including 5-1 in dual action at No. 1.
Buck clinched the victory for the third time in her career with a 6-4, 6-0 triumph against Schaub at No. 3. The Notre Dame sophomore moved to 9-5 on the season.
Tefft made the score 5-0 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Schutte, a native of South Africa, at No. 4. She avoided the first two-match losing streak of her collegiate career and improved to 11-2 on the season (3-1 dual).
Freshman Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) battled with another rookie, Orlin, at No. 6, coming back from a 5-4 deficit to win the opening set and then saving a match point in the match tiebreaker before prevailing 7-5, 5-7, 1-0 (12-10). The Irish freshman has now won 10 consecutive matches, dating back to Oct. 22. She is 12-3 overall this season, including 6-0 in dual play and 4-1 in match tiebreakers.
Christian Thompson, ranked 44th, outlasted Griffith – who was ranked 57th nationally in the preseason but has since fallen out – in an up-and-down match at No. 2. The Irish junior led 5-3 in the opening set, before Griffith won four straight games to take it. The Lady Volunteer then had a chance to serve out the match, up 6-5 in the second, but could not do so. Thompson eventually won 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 1-0 (10-3) to improve to 12-4 on the season and 5-1 in dual-match play (all at No. 2). It was the 50th career singles victory for her, compared to 27 defeats (.649).
Notre Dame snapped a six-match losing streak against the Lady Volunteers, who still lead the all-time series with the Irish by a 12-5 count. The previous Irish win was a 5-4 decision at home on Feb. 14, 1998.
The only other time Notre Dame won 7-0 (or 9-0) against a top-25 squad came thanks to the efforts of many of the current players, as the Irish – ranked 21st at the time – won every set en route to a 7-0 home win against #20 Michigan on Jan. 26, 2005.
On Sunday, the Irish will be looking to begin the season 7-0 for the first time since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86. Notre Dame’s last 7-0 start came in 1984-85, when it won 10 in a row to begin the season and eventually reached the title match of the NCAA Division II Championship.
The ND-Harvard match will be the first contest between top-15 teams at Notre Dame since Feb. 10, 2001, when the 11th-ranked Irish beat #8 Wake Forest 5-0 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame holds a 4-5 all-time home mark in top-15 matchups, including a three-match winning streak. The last time ND was involved in a contest between top-15 teams (at any location) was March 14, 2003, when #7 Arizona State prevailed 5-2 on its home court against 15th-ranked Notre Dame. The Irish – who beat #10 North Carolina 5-1 last weekend – also will be looking to knock off top-10 opponents twice in the same month for just the third time since becoming a Division I program. Notre Dame also did that in February of 1996 and 2001.
Harvard stands 5-2 on the season, having lost 5-0 to two-time defending NCAA champ and top-ranked Stanford on Feb. 4 and then by a 4-3 score on Friday at #8 Northwestern. The Crimson did knock off #6 Georgia and #16 TCU to reach the semifinals of the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championship – the top dual-match tournament of the regular season – for the first time.
A year ago, the Crimson rallied from a 3-1 deficit with a trio of three-set victories to prevail 4-3 in Cambridge, Mass., in the first-ever matchup between the schools in women’s tennis.
#15 Notre Dame 7, #22 Tennessee 0SinglesNo. 1: #24 Catrina Thompson (ND) def. Victoria Jones (T) 6-1, 6-2No. 2: #44 Christian Thompson (ND) def. Blakeley Griffith (T) 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 1-0 (10-3)No. 3: * Brook Buck (ND) def. Melissa Schaub (T) 6-4, 6-0No. 4: Kelcy Tefft (ND) def. Ghizela Schutte (T) 6-3, 6-4No. 5: Kristina Stastny (ND) def. Stephanie Harris (T) 6-3, 6-1No. 6: Katie Potts (ND) def. Samantha Orlin (T) 7-5, 5-7, 1-0 (12-10)Order of Finish: 5, 1, 3*, 4, 6, 2DoublesNo. 1: #1 Thompson/Thompson (ND) def. Schaub/Schutte (T) 8-1No. 2: * #35 Buck/Tefft (ND) def. Griffith/Jones (T) 8-3No. 3: #45 Lauren Connelly/Stastny (ND) def. Harris/Orlin (T) 8-3Order of Finish: 1, 2*, 3