April 20, 2006
BIG EAST Conference ChampionshipTampa, Florida â€¢ USF Varsity Tennis CourtsFriday, April 21Quarterfinals, 9 a.m. (ET) -  Notre Dame (21-1, 2-0) vs. Rutgers (14-7, 8-4)Saturday, April 22Semifinals, 9 a.m. -  Notre Dame vs.  DePaul (15-6, 6-2)/ St. John's (12-6, 7-2)Sunday, April 23Final, 9 a.m.
#2 NOTRE DAME AIMS FOR SEVENTH BIG EAST TITLE: The top-seeded and second-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (21-1, 2-0) will look for its seventh title in the BIG EAST Conference Championship this weekend at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The Irish, who gained a first-round bye in the 12-team event, open play against eighth-seeded Rutgers (13-7, 8-4) on Friday at 9 a.m. (ET) in quarterfinal action. They would then face either fourth-seeded DePaul (15-6, 6-2) or fifth-seeded St. John’s (12-6, 7-2) on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the semifinals, while the top contenders in the other half of the draw are second-seeded and 37th-ranked USF (14-4, 2-0) and third-seeded and 74th-ranked Louisville (21-6, 2-0). The title match will be Sunday at 9 a.m. Notre Dame has reached the final in all 10 years since becoming a conference member, winning championships in 1996, ’97, ’99, 2001, ’03, and `05.
IRISH IN THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: Notre Dame was named the No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST Conference Women’s Tennis Championship, which will take place Friday through Sunday at the University of South Florida in Tampa. With the league’s expansion this year, the field has been doubled to feature a 12-team bracket with the top four seeds earning opening-round byes. The winner receives the BIG EAST’s automatic berth into the NCAA Championship, which begins at campus sites on May 12. The Irish have earned the No. 1 seed every year but one (2003) since joining the conference, advancing to the final in all 10 appearances, winning titles in 1996, `97, `99, 2001, `03, and `05. ND faced Miami in the first nine title matches and beat Syracuse a year ago. Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) is a leading candidate to repeat as the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player, as she is the highest-ranked singles player in the conference, at 31st. She also is sixth in doubles with her twin sister, Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.). The other nationally-ranked BIG EAST singles players are the South Florida trio of Courtney Vernon (57th), Neyssa Etienne (63rd), and Liz Cruz (75th), plus Notre Dame’s Brook Buck (80th) and Christian Thompson (99th). In doubles, Etienne and Gabriela Duch are 10th, while the DePaul squad of Gergana Ganeva and Beatrix Csordas are 32nd, and Buck and freshmanKelcy Tefft are 38th. Other past Notre Dame winners of the tournament MVP were Jennifer Hall in 1996 and current Notre Dame assistant coach Michelle Dasso in 2000 and ’01. Head coach Jay Louderback has been named BIG EAST Coach of the Year five times (1996, ’97, ’99, 2000, ’01), and figures to once again be a candidate for that award, as his squad has ascended to #2 in the ITA national rankings, the best listing ever for a BIG EAST team.
CLASS OF THE CONFERENCE: Notre Dame has an incredible record of success in conference action, holding a 54-5 (.915) all-time record against conference foes, including a 21-4 (.840) record in the BIG EAST tournament. All five defeats came against Miami (Fla.), which was a fellow member of the BIG EAST Conference from 1996-2004. Notre Dame has a 32-2 (.941) all-time record against current BIG EAST schools, having lost to Marquette in 1989 and South Florida in 1993, long before they joined the league this season. Following seven years as an independent, the Irish were members of the North Star Conference from 1983-84 to 1987-88, the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from 1988-89 to 1994-95, and the BIG EAST since 1995-96. In 22 years of league membership, Notre Dame has been league champs 18 times (and runner-up the other four years) and won 27 consecutive matches against league foes from 1983-98.
ALL-TIME RECORDS AGAINST CURRENT BIG EAST TEAMS: See below Notre Dame’s all-time record against the current members of the BIG EAST Conference. School Matches Record vs. BIG EAST Tournament Last Cincinnati 1 1-0 0-0 `85 (fall)-W, 6-1 Connecticut 0 0-0 0-0 — DePaul 8 8-0 0-0 `06-W, 7-0 Georgetown 1 1-0 1-0 `98 (BET)-W, 4-0 Louisville 1 1-0 0-0 `87-W, 9-0 Marquette 9 8-1 0-0 `06-W, 7-0 Pittsburgh 0 0-0 0-0 — Providence 1 1-0 1-0 `97 (BET)-W, 4-0 Rutgers 3 3-0 2-0 `00 (BET)-W, 6-0 St. John’s 2 2-0 2-0 `05 (BET)-W, 4-0 Seton Hall 1 1-0 1-0 `00 (BET)-W, 5-0 South Florida 1 0-1 0-0 `93-L, 3-6 Syracuse 4 4-0 2-0 `05 (BET)-W, 4-0 Villanova 0 0-0 0-0 — West Virginia 2 2-0 1-0 `01-W, 7-0 Totals 34 32-2 10-0
IRISH-SCARLET KNIGHTS SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and Rutgers will meet for the first time since 2000 and the fourth time overall, with the Irish having prevailed in each prior matchup … the schools first played in 1987 in Hilton Head, S.C., with Notre Dame winning 7-2 … this will be the third meeting in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals, after the Irish won 4-0 in 1999 and 6-0 in 2000, with both contests in Coral Gables, Fla. … Rutgers will be the only current member of the BIG EAST to have faced the Irish three or more times in the league tournament.
IRISH-RED STORM SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and S t. John’s could meet for the second consecutive year and the third time overall, with the Irish having registered shutout wins in the two prior meetings … the Irish won by 4-0 scores in the quarterfinals of the 1996 event and in the semifinals a season ago.
IRISH-BLUE DEMONS SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and DePaul could meet for the second time this month and the ninth time overall, and the Irish have won every match … ND won 7-0 on April 7 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion for the sixth shutout of the series … the schools first met in the fall of 1978, with the Irish winning 7-2 at home … the other non-shutout came in the fall of 1982, when ND won 7-2 at DePaul … since then, all five matches have been shutouts … there are only two schools (Boston College-11 and Drake-9) that Notre Dame has played more times without having been defeated …the Irish have played more all-time matches against just one current member of the BIG EAST Conference (Marquette-9).
ND REMAINS ALL-TIME HIGH OF #2 IN FILA COLLEGIATE TENNIS RANKINGS: Despite being idle last week, the Irish remained at #2 for the seventh consecutive week in the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, determined by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) computer formula. It is the highest ITA ranking for Notre Dame since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86 (highest prior to this season was fifth in 2000-01). Notre Dame moved slightly closer to two-time defending NCAA champion Stanford, as the Irish computer average of 88.17 is 9.21 behind the Cardinal’s 97.38 (last week’s margin was 10.14). Stanford has won 78 consecutive matches, dating back to the title match of the 2003 NCAA tournament. Rounding out the top five are Florida (the last team to beat Stanford), USC, and Baylor. In all, 14 of Notre Dame’s 23 regular-season opponents are listed among the 75 teams in this week’s rankings, with seven in the top 20: #7 North Carolina (W, 5-1), #8 Vanderbilt (L, 3-4), #11 Northwestern (April 5, home), #12 Duke (W, 4-3), #19 Texas (W, 7-0), #18 Harvard (W, 5-2), and #20 Wake Forest (W, 4-3). Additionally, the Irish lost 4-3 to USC – currently ranked third – during the fall in exhibition action.
IRISH TURN IN BEST REGULAR SEASON IN PROGRAM HISTORY: After the first 16-0 start in the 30-year history of the program, Notre Dame wound up the regular season with a 21-1 mark. It not only is the best 22-match record ever for the Irish, but it also matches the fewest regular-season defeats for a Notre Dame team (9-1 record in the 1979 fall-only season) and tied the mark for most regular-season wins for the Irish since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86 (ND was 21-4 in 2000-01).
BOTTOM OF ND LINEUP WINNING 92% OF MATCHES: The key to Notre Dame’s success this season has been its outstanding depth, as the Irish hold a combined 81-7 (.920) mark in the bottom two spots of their lineups. Notre Dame is 40-4 (.909) combined at Nos. 5-6 in singles, as well as 41-3 (.932) at Nos. 2-3 doubles.
ND WINNING 87% OF DOUBLES MATCHES THIS SPRING: Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable in partnered play this spring, going 59-7 (.867), winning the doubles point in all 22 matches. The Irish are 18-4 at No. 1, 20-2 at No. 2, and 21-1 at No. 3. In 35 of those contests (51%), the Irish have lost just three games or fewer. On the season, Notre Dame teams have combined for a 91-19 (.827) record in doubles. Junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), ranked sixth nationally after giving ND its first-ever grand slam title at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, stand 19-4 on the season (7-2 vs. ranked teams), while the No. 2 tandem of sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) – who were reunited this season after pairing to win five USTA super national titles in juniors play – are ranked 38th and sporting a 29-5 record (they had an 11-match winning streak snapped on Feb. 26). Seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) began the spring with a 15-match winning streak and are now 19-1, as well as 30-6 overall (3-1 against ranked teams). They fell out of the national rankings after peaking at 45th. In all, the players on Notre Dame’s roster combined for 29 USTA super national gold balls in the juniors.
SUPER SENIORS: Notre Dame’s three seniors that have seen action this spring – Kelly Nelson (St. Petersburg, Fla./Shorecrest Preparatory School), Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) and team captain Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) – have combined for a 69-5 (.932) record in dual action. Stastny leads the way at 18-3 in singles (mostly at No. 5) and 20-1 in doubles (mostly at No. 3). The Irish captain is 6-0 in singles and 20-1 in doubles, with Nelson adding two wins in singles and three in doubles.
FABULOUS FROSH: Notre Dame’s two freshmen – Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) and Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) – have not had a difficult transition to the collegiate game, as they have combined for a 57-9 (.864) record this spring. Tefft leads the way at 16-4 in singles (mostly at No. 4), as well as 19-3 in doubles (mostly at No. 2), while Potts is 20-2 in singles (mostly at No. 6) and a 6-0 record at No. 3 doubles.
NOTRE DAME MATCHES HIGHEST-RANKED WIN vs. #5 DUKE: When Notre Dame beat #5 Duke 4-3 on March 15 in Orlando, Fla., it matched the highest-ranked team ever defeated by the Irish. ND, ranked eighth at the time, won 5-4 at #5 Texas on April 4, 1996.
IRISH 4-0 vs. TOP-10 TEAMS: After having not beaten a top-10 team since Feb. 7, 2002 (4-3 against #7 USC), Notre Dame knocked off #10 North Carolina (5-1) on Feb. 12, beat #9 Harvard (5-2) on Feb. 19, topped #5 Duke (4-3) on March 15 in Orlando, Fla, and won against #9 Northwestern (4-3) on April 5. The 2005-06 Irish squad is just the second in the 30-year history of the program to beat four or more top-10 teams in a single season. The 1995-96 team – which reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament – had wins against #5 Texas (5-4), #6 California (5-4), #9 Brigham Young (5-0), and #9 Tennessee (5-2).
ND 10-1 AGAINST TOP-30 TEAMS: Notre Dame’s success has seen the Irish take on 11 squads ranked in the national top 30 at the time of the match. The Irish have wins against #23 Wake Forest (4-3), #10 North Carolina (5-1), #30 Michigan (6-1), #22 Tennessee (7-0), #9 Harvard (5-2), #20 Brigham Young (5-2), #27 Indiana (7-0), #5 Duke (4-3), #11 Texas (7-0), and #9 Northwestern (4-3), while their only defeat came at #11 Vanderbilt (4-3). During a 15-day stretch from Feb. 11-25, Notre Dame played six matches, with all of them against top-30 teams.
LOUDERBACK REGISTERS 500th CAREER WIN, 300th AT ND: Notre Dame head coach Jay Louderback – in his 17th season with the Irish and his 27th overall as a head coach – became just the 10th collegiate women’s tennis coach ever to register 500 career victories, when the Irish won 4-3 at Texas A&M on March 18. On April 2, a 4-3 win at Purdue gave him 300 victories since taking over the reins of the Notre Dame program in 1989-90. Louderback holds a 507-324 (.610) overall record, including 303-146 (.675) at Notre Dame. He also was 122-94 (.565) in seven years (1980-86) at Wichita State and 82-84 (.494) in three seasons (1986-89) coaching both men’s and women’s tennis at Iowa State.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Jay Louderback is in his 17th season at Notre Dame with a 303-146 (.675) record and his 26th year as a collegiate coach with a 507-324 (.610) mark. He ranks seventh among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories and became just the 10th collegiate women’s coach ever to register 500 wins (4-3 win at Texas A&M on March 18). Louderback’s Irish have finished in the national top 30 in each of the last 13 seasons and have won 12 conference titles. Since the preseason of the 1992-93 season, Louderback’s teams have been in the national top 30 in all but two sets of ITA rankings and reached an all-time high of #2 this spring. After taking over a program looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance, Louderback has helped Notre Dame to the NCAAs 12 times in the last 13 years (which only 10 other schools have done), including five appearances in the round of 16 and a 1996 quarterfinal finish. Louderback, a four-time Midwest Region coach of the year, has been honored as his conference’s top coach on eight occasions, including five times in 10 years in the BIG EAST. In his time at Notre Dame, Louderback’s players have earned All-America honors 15 times, won four national ITA awards, and earned 20 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 12 to the NCAA doubles tournament. In the fall, he delivered the first individual title in an ITA grand slam event, when junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) won the doubles crown in the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships. His players have dominated the University awards during Louderback’s tenure, leading all sports in both Byron V. Kanaley awards (six) and Francis Patrick O’Connor awards (six). His family was honored with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tennis Family of the Year Award for 2002. The Arkansas City, Kan., native, and 1976 graduate of Wichita State arrived at Notre Dame prior to the 1989-90 season after coaching for seven years at his alma mater and three years (men and women) at Iowa State.
PUTTING THEM AWAY FAST: Not only has Notre Dame won nearly all of its dual matches this spring, but it has put most of them away early, going up 4-0 in 16 of the 22 contests. The Irish won in the final match on court for 4-3 wins against #23 Wake Forest (Feb. 11), #5 Duke (March 15), and Texas A&M (March 18), and fell 4-3 to #11 Vanderbilt (March 29). The other contests in which ND did not clinch the match before the other side scored a point were on Feb. 25 against #20 Brigham Young (ND clinched at 4-1) and April 5 vs. #9 Northwestern (ND clinched 4-2).
STREAKS: The following streaks are active: Team – Notre Dame has reached the final of the BIG EAST Conference Championship in all 10 years as a league member. – Notre Dame has won 15 consecutive home matches. [last loss: 2/26/05 vs. #13 Texas, 4-3] – Notre Dame has won 12 consecutive matches against Midwest Region opponents. [last loss: 5/14/05 at #6 Northwestern in NCAA second round, 4-0] – Notre Dame has won 14 consecutive home matches against Midwest Region opponents. [last loss: 4/15/04 vs. #11 Northwestern, 4-3] Singles – Notre Dame has won 31 consecutive dual matches when winning at No. 3 singles. [last loss: 4/21/04 at #61 Purdue, 4-3, Catrina Thompson def. Amy Walgenbach 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3] – Brook Buck has won 15 consecutive singles matches against Midwest Region opponents. [last loss: 10/22/05 vs. Michigan’s Debra Streifler 7-5, 6-1] – Katie Potts has won 20 consecutive singles matches indoors. [last loss: 10/22/05 vs. Northwestern’s Nazlie Ghazal 7-5, 6-4] – Katie Potts is 24-0 as a collegian when winning the first set. – Lauren Connelly has won nine consecutive singles matches. [last loss: 10/23/05 vs. #50 Alexis Prousis of Northwestern, 6-0, 6-2] – Lauren Connelly has won 17 consecutive sets in singles. [last loss: 11/4/05 vs. Illinois’ Emily Wang, 6-2 in second set] Doubles – Notre Dame has won the doubles point in all 22 matches this sason. [last doubles-point loss: 5/14/05 vs. #6 Northwestern, lost at Nos. 2 and 3] – Catrina Thompson/Christian Thompson have been ranked higher than their opponents in 25 consecutive matches. [last playing higher ranked team: 5/14/05 vs. #2 Audra Cohen/Cristelle Grier of Northwestern, #6 Thompsons won 8-3] – Catrina Thompson/Christian Thompson have been nationally-ranked heading into 61 consecutive matches. [last time unranked: 4/4/04 vs. Miami’s #22 Melissa Applebaum/Megan Bradley, won 8-6] – Catrina Thompson/Christian Thompson have been ranked in the top 10 heading into 53 consecutive matches. [last time ranked below 10th: 5/26/04 vs. William & Mary’s Megan Muth/Amy Wei, Thompsons ranked 36th] – Lauren Connelly/Kristina Stastny are 15-0 against lower-ranked teams. – Kristina Stastny is 5-0 in her career as the final match remaining with the doubles point still undecided. – Katie Potts has won nine consecutive doubles matches. [last loss: 10/21/05 vs. Ohio State’s Ruzimovsky/DiPastina 8-6]
MOST WINS WITHOUT LOSING: See below the list of schools against which Notre Dame has the most victories without a defeat. School Bayliss Record vs. Boston College 11-0 Drake 9-0 DePaul 8-0 Kansas State 8-0 Virginia Tech 8-0 Central Michigan 7-0 Toledo 7-0 Wheaton 7-0 Butler 6-0
ND’S RECRUITING CLASS TABBED #1 IN NATION: Notre Dame women’s tennis head coach Jay Louderback announced that three stars of prep and junior tennis – Cosmina Ciobanu (Brea, Calif./Troy H.S.), Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan./Arkansas City H.S.), and Colleen Rielley (Overland Park, Kan./Bishop Miege H.S.) – signed national letters of intent in the early period and will join the Irish in the fall of 2006, and TennisRecruiting.net has named that group as the #1 recruiting class in the country. At the time of announcement (Nov. 15, 2005), Rielley was #1 in the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) 18-and-under girls’ singles national rankings, while Ciobanu was 17th, and Krisik – a two-time Kansas state champion (2002 and `03) – was 76th. Ciobanu won the Southern California Sectional singles championship in 2005 and also reached the singles final of a USTA National Open last year. She was ranked as high as 15th nationally in singles in `05. Krisik is Louderback’s niece, and she is part of the first mother-daughter combination ever to play for the longtime Irish mentor. Louderback’s sister, Jan, was his first recruit when he began his head coaching career at Wichita State in 1980. Krisik will join both her uncle and her cousin, current sophomore Bailey Louderback (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.), in the Irish program. Rielley is the first Notre Dame signee ever to have been ranked #1 in the USTA girls’ 18s. A three-time prep state champ (Missouri in `03, Kansas in `04 and `05), she won the singles title in the 2004 USTA Winter National Championships, took third in the ’05 National Clay Courts, and also is ranked fourth nationally in doubles.
ND BOASTING 18-MATCH WINNING STREAK AT HOME: Notre Dame has won 18 consecutive matches at home – five against top-25 opponents – since falling 4-3 to #13 Texas in the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Feb. 26, 2005. It is the longest winning streak since a 24-match stretch from April 9, 1988 – Feb. 24, 1991. The only other longer home winning streak for Notre Dame was a stretch of 25 matches from Sept. 12, 1979 – Sept. 22, 1982.
LONGEST IRISH HOME WINNING STREAKS: See below a list of the longest home winning streaks in the 30-year varsity history of Notre Dame women’s tennis. Streak Dates Loss Ending It 25 Sept. 12, 1979 – Sept. 22, 1982 9/25/82 vs. Purdue, 7-0 24 April 9, 1988 – Feb. 24, 1991 2/24/91 vs. LSU, 6-2 18 Feb. 27, 2005 – present ??????? 14 Feb. 19, 1993 – Feb. 8, 1994 2/11/94 vs. #15 Kansas, 8-1 14 Sept. 7, 1985 – April 6, 1986 9/12/86 vs. Illinois, 5-3 13 Feb. 4, 2001 – Jan. 26, 2002 2/2/02 vs. #24 Kentucky, 4-3 12 Jan. 29 – May 14, 2000 1/21/01 vs. #4 Duke, 4-3 12 March 11, 1995 – April 12, 1996 4/15/96 vs. #7 Wisconsin, 4-3
TOP ALL-TIME IRISH WINS: See below a list of Notre Dame’s 17 all-time victories against top-11 teams since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86, ordered by opponent ranking. Rk. School Date Location ND Rk. Score 5 Duke 3/15/06 Orlando, FL 2 4-3 5 Texas 4/4/96 Away 8 5-4 6 California 2/24/96 Team Indoor consolation (Madison, WI) 16 5-4 7 USC 2/7/02 Team Indoor 1st round (Madison, WI) 13 5-2 7 Pepperdine 2/17/01 Team Indoor consolation (Madison, WI) 11 6-1 8 Wake Forest 2/10/01 Home 11 5-0 9 Northwestern 4/5/06 Home 2 4-3 9 Harvard 2/19/05 Home 15 5-2 9 William & Mary 4/11/99 Home 15 5-4 9 Wake Forest 3/6/99 Home 16 7-2 9 Brigham Young 5/18/96 NCAA round of 16 (Tallahassee, FL) 10 5-0 9 Tennessee 2/15/96 Home 16 5-2 10 North Carolina 2/12/05 Away 22 5-1 10 Wake Forest 4/9/98 Away 17 8-1 10 Wisconsin 2/27/97 Away 11 4-3 10 Kansas 2/11/95 Williamsburg, VA 15 6-3 10 Arizona 3/5/94 Team Indoor consolation (Madison, WI) 17 5-2 11 Texas 3/20/06 Away 2 7-0 11 Pepperdine 3/16/95 Away 16 7-2
IRISH WINNING STREAKS: Notre Dame has seen its players fashion four winning streaks of 10 or more matches this season. In singles, freshman Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) won 16 consecutive singles matches from Oct. 22-March 10, the longest singles winning streak for a Notre Dame player since Marisa Velasco won the first 16 matches of her collegiate career, first losing on Feb. 17, 1996. Fellow rookie Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) won 10 in a row from Feb. 18-March 20. In doubles, seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) began the spring with 15 consecutive victories (Jan. 28-March 20), which was the longest winning streak by a Notre Dame doubles team since Becky Varnum and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso won 21 in a row from Feb. 17-May 13, 2001. Tefft and sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) won 11 in a row from Nov. 4-Feb. 25.
CONNELLY REACHES 100 CAREER DOUBLES WINS: Against #11 Texas on March 20, senior captain Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) became the sixth player in program history to post 100 career victories in doubles. She holds a 105-38 mark and is just four wins away from the Irish record for career doubles wins, which is held by current assistant coach Michelle Dasso, who was 109-42 during her career. Against Western Michigan on March 10, Connelly became the 10th player in program history to post 100 career combined (singles and doubles) victories in dual-match play.
CONNELLY BREAKS SISTER’S RECORD FOR CAREER DOUBLES-POINT CLINCHING WINS; STASTNY NOW TIED FOR RECORD, TOO: On March 20 at #11 Texas, senior captain Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) clinched the doubles point for the 23rd time in her career. That broke the Irish record of 22 done by her sister, 2005 graduate Sarah Jane Connelly. Connelly now has 26 clinches to her credit, while her current doubles partner, fellow senior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), has tied her with 26 clinching wins of her own. Note that the scoring format was changed to include a doubles point in 2001, which is when the statistic debuted.
THOMPSONS GIVE ND FIRST-EVER GRAND SLAM TITLE: Junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) fought off two match points and finally prevailed in a tiebreaker to give the University of Notre Dame its first-ever title in an Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national championship, winning 9-8 (9-7) over Spaniard Lucia Sainz and German Kathrina Winterhalter from Fresno State in the final of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, the first grand slam of the 2005-06 season. Both teams had two match points in the contest, which is the closest doubles final in All-Amercan Championships history since the current pro-set format was adopted in 2001. The Thompsons are the first team from any school to reach the title match of the ITA All-American Championships in consecutive years and come away with a title. Each of the three previous back-to-back finalists had gone winless in both attempts. Notre Dame – which knocked off three top-seven teams to reach the final – lost just 16 total games in the tournament, the second-fewest ever by a doubles champion, behind only the 11 surrendered by Sarah Riske and Aleke Tsoubanos of Vanderbilt in 2002. The Irish opened with an 8-0 victory over the seventh-ranked team of Gabrielle Duch and Neyssa Etienne of South Florida. The twins beat #6 Alice Barnes/Anne Yelsey of Stanford 9-7 in the quarters and came back with an 8-1 triumph against #3 Iva Gersic/Maja Kovacek of New Mexico in the semifinals. Catrina and Christian are the second set of twins from any school – and the first in the All-Americans – ever to win an ITA national championship, following Tami and Teri Whitlinger of Stanford, who won the 1989 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. The Thompsons – who have been among the final four teams remaining in three of the last four grand slams – improved to 11-4 in their careers in grand slam events. They are now 7-1 in the All-American Championships after Irish competitors had been just 2-5 in its doubles main draw prior to that.
THOMPSONS START SPRING AT #1: Notre Dame junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) became the top-ranked doubles team in college tennis following the fall portion of the 2005-06 season when the Jan. 10 rankings were released. It was the second time that the Thompson sisters (as well as any ND duo) had been ranked #1 in the nation. They achieved that listing on Feb. 22, 2005, but it was short-lived, as the twins were defeated in their first match after that and fell to #2 in the next of rankings before finishing 2004-05 at fifth. This season, the Thompsons went 5-1 while being ranked #1, but fell to second in the Feb. 22 rankings. They remain only the second set of twin sisters ever to be ranked #1 by the ITA (Tami and Teri Whitlinger of Stanford in 1989). Stanford twins Mike and Bob Bryan – currently ranked #1 in the ATP’s world rankings – also were #1 in 1998.
TWO DECISIVE TIEBREAKERS GIVE USC 4-3 EXHIBITION WIN OVER ND: After nearly 10 hours of play (due to playing concurrent to a men’s match), the exhibition match between the Notre Dame and USC – which began the spring ranked fifth in the nation – on Oct. 14 came down to a single tiebreaker at No. 2 singles, where Dianne Matias prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) over Irish junior Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) to hand the Women of Troy a 4-3 victory. USC’s victory also was keyed by a tiebreaker victory in the final doubles match on court.
ND ONE OF FIVE SCHOOLS TO HAVE ENTIRE LINEUP IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: When the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) released its regional rankings at the end of the fall portion of the season, Notre Dame was one of only five Division I schools – along with Stanford, USC, Baylor, and California – to have its entire lineup earn regional ranks. In addition to having six players among the top 30 in the Midwest Region, three of the top five doubles teams in the region belong to the Irish; junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) were #1, while sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) came in fourth, and seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) were fifth. Only one other school (Northwestern) had even multiple squads among the 15 Midwest Region doubles teams listed. In singles, Catrina Thompson led the way at third, while Christian Thompson was 10th, Buck came in 14th, Tefft was 18th, Connelly was 25th, and Stastny was 27th. The last time ND had the top doubles team in the Midwest Region rankings was at the conclusion of the 2000-01 campaign, when current assistant coach Michelle Dasso and Becky Varnum held that spot. Catrina Thompson is the highest-ranked ND singles player in the regional rankings since Alicia Salas concluded her career at #2 in 2003-04.
IRISH DEPTH ON DISPLAY AT ITA MIDWEST CHAMPIONSHIPS: Notre Dame’s depth was evident at the ITA Midwest Championships – the annual indoor tournament of the top players in the Midwest Region. The Irish were one of just two schools (along with Northwestern) to have three players – senior captain Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and juniors Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) – among the final 16 in singles. Catrina Thompson reached the semis before falling. ND and the Wildcats also were the only squads to have multiple doubles teams in the quarterfinals: Connelly and fellow senior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) plus sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.). The Thompsons – who were ranked #2 nationally at the time – did not compete in doubles in the tournament.
IRISH A PERENNIAL TOP-30 TEAM: Not only has Notre Dame finished in the top 30 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings in each of the last 13 seasons, but the Irish also have been a near-constant presence. Since the preseason rankings of the 1992-93 season, Notre Dame has been among the top 30 teams in the country in 214 of 216 (99.1%) sets of rankings. The first exception came in late March of 2003, when the transition to the computer rankings moved the Irish from 15th to 27th to 48th and then back to 27th (despite going 6-2 during that time). The second slip out of the top 30 came on April 5 of 2004-05, when ND fell three spots to 31st before moving back to up 26th the following week.
CAPTAIN CONNELLY, THE SEQUEL: Senior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) will serve as Notre Dame’s sole captain during the 2005-06 season. She took over the mantle from her sister, Sarah Jane Connelly, who was Notre Dame’s sole senior in 2004-05. The Connellys are the first sisters to serve as captains of the Irish women’s tennis team, as well as just the fifth sister captain duo in Notre Dame athletics history, following Kathy and Susan Valdiserri (fencing), Julie and Tracy Melby (golf), Carol and Maggie Lally (basketball), and Jessica and Kristen Kinder (volleyball).
THOMPSONS FEATURED IN “SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ON CAMPUS” A LIST: Junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) were two of the 14 student-athletes featured on the “A List” of elite collegiate performers across all sports in the October 13 issue of Sports Illustrated On Campus. In the words of SI On Campus: “Think of the A List this way: the coolest, the hottest, the most of-the-moment, the cream of the crop. Here are 14 faces SIOC would usher to the front of just about any line, no questions asked.” The Thompsons were the only tennis players featured among the group, which also includes the likes of football Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart of USC and Vince Young of Texas, as well as Connecticut basketball standout Rudy Gay.
WE ARE FAMILY: Notre Dame women’s tennis has long featured members of the same family on its teams. For the fourth consecutive season, Notre Dame will have a set of sisters on its roster: junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.). They last year became the first set of Irish sisters — and first twins of either sex — to both become All-Americans. The previous three seasons had featured two pairs of sisters on each Irish roster, but that has changed with the graduation of Maggie Donohue in 2003 and Sarah Jane Connelly last spring. Another family connection was added last season, as head coach Jay Louderback’s daughter, Bailey Louderback (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.), joined the team. He became the 11th Notre Dame coach — just the second in a women’s sport (along with softball’s Brian Boulac) — to have coached his son or daughter with the Irish. Next year, Louderback’s niece, Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan./Arkansas City H.S.) will join the Irish roster.
DAVID DiLUCIA NOW PERSONAL COACH FOR LINDSAY DAVENPORT: A five-time All-American during his four-year career at Notre Dame (1988-92), David DiLucia, left his job with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in December 2005 to become the personal coach of the world’s #1 player, Lindsay Davenport. DiLucia was ranked #1 in both singles and doubles during his collegiate career and then went on to play in the singles main draw in all four professional grand slams before retiring in 2002. During his pro career, DiLucia earned wins over players such as Gustavo Kuerten, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Mark Philippoussis, and David Wheaton.
ND #1 IN NACDA DIRECTORS’ CUP: Notre Dame is in first place in the most-recent set of standings in the 2005-06 United States Sports Academy Directors’ Cup all-sports competition sponsored by the National Association of Collegiate Dirctors of Athletics (NACDA), which were released on Jan. 12 and included results from all fall sports. Fall NCAA competition earned the Irish 412 points based on their third-place finish in men’s cross country (85 points), their seventh-place finish in women’s cross country (69 points), their quarterfinal appearance in women’s soccer (73), their third-round appearance in men’s soccer (64), their regional semifinal appearance in women’s volleyball (64) and their 11th-place finish in football based on the final USA Today poll (57). This marks the second straight year Notre Dame has ranked atop the final fall standings – and its 412 points are its highest-ever fall total. Penn State (308.5 points) ranks second, Stanford (282) is third, and Duke (280) and Wisconsin (277) round out the top five. Notre Dame finished 16th in 2004-05, its fifth consecutive top-20 placing, and has three times finished an all-time high of 11th (1993-94, `95-96, 2000-01). Duke posted its all-time best finish of fifth in 2004-05.
CHANGES TO THE ITA RANKINGS: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) recently announced some changes to its national rankings for the 2005-06 season: (1) It will use one set of points for wins and also a tighter set of points, with less gaps. This set of points will be the same set that has been used for the season’s first computer rankings in the past; (2) There will be bonus points awarded for road wins; (3) The rankings that are run at the time of NCAA Championship selections will be run twice and the second run of the rankings will be the published ranking; (4) There will be expanded, unpublished rankings (and values for opponents): 76-125 for team, 126-175 for singles, and 61-90 for doubles; (5) The first computer rankings (for team) will take place 2 weeks earlier on March 8; (6) The singles and doubles rankings from Fall results will go back to being a computer ranking; it had been done by committee vote the past three years.
KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME TENNIS: For the fastest results of Notre Dame tennis matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #8. The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com. The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame tennis match. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Bo Rottenborn at Rottenborn.email@example.com, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.