Senior Kristina Stastny won in doubles and then clinched the match with a singles victory.

#2 Irish Open BIG EAST Tournament With Shutout Of Rutgers

April 21, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. – The top-seeded and second-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (22-1) opened play in the BIG EAST Conference Championship on Friday morning with a dominating 4-0 win against eighth-seeded Rutgers (14-8) at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts. The Irish – who have reached the title match in all 10 years of league membership, winning six championships – will take on fourth-seeded DePaul (16-6) on Saturday at 9 a.m. (ET) in the semifinals. The other semi features second-seeded and 37th-ranked South Florida (15-4) against third-seeded and 74th-ranked Louisville (22-6). The Irish beat the Blue Demons 7-0 at home on April 7.

Notre Dame wasted little time on Friday, playing in a quarterfinal match for the first time since 2000 (due to fluctuations in the size of the tournament’s field). The Irish did not drop a set and ended up winning 84 of the 99 games that were completed. Notre Dame lost just six total games in doubles and then got three speedy wins in singles: a pair of 6-0, 6-0 decisions and a 6-1, 6-2 affair. The other matches were abandoned, even though the Irish held a 6-0, 3-0 edge in one of them. Notre Dame rested junior Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), who normally plays No. 2, during the singles portion of the match.

Seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) were first off the court in doubles, posting an 8-2 win against Lauren Edelschein and Jill Markowitz at No. 3. The Irish duo is now 31-6 on the season, including 20-1 in dual play. Connelly earned the 106th doubles victory of her career (as opposed to 38 defeats), which puts her alone in second place on the Notre Dame all-time list, only three behind the record held by current Irish assistant coach Michelle Dasso, who was 109-42 during her career (1997-2001). Connelly also moved to 70-22 in doubles dual action during her career, joining Dasso and Becky Varnum (1998-2002) as the only Irish players ever to reach 70+ in that category.

Junior All-America twins Christian and Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) clinched the doubles point with an 8-2 victory against Alina Balasa and Dana Gordon at No. 1. It marked the second clinching win for the sisters this season and the 13th of their career, which broke the Notre Dame record of 12 doubles-point clinches by a team, which had also been held by Stastny and 2005 graduate Sarah Jane Connelly. The Thompsons are 20-4 on the season, including 14-3 in dual play at No. 1.

Sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.), ranked 38th, were just two points from victory – leading 7-2 and 30-0 – when their match against Katrina Elder-Bush and Ketevan Shmakova was abandoned.

Tefft was the quickest in singles, winning 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 against Balasa. It was the second consecutive “double bagel” for the Notre Dame rookie, who posted one in the regular-season finale against Marquette. She has now not lost a game since a 6-1, 6-2 victory over DePaul on April 7. Tefft is 25-5 overall this season, including 17-4 in dual action.

Catrina Thompson, ranked 31st in the nation, continued to have a penchant for shutouts, posting her third 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 1 this spring with a victory against Elder-Bush. The ND junior also cooked up “double bagels” against Xavier, Eastern Michigan, and DePaul. Thompson earned her career-high 25th singles victory of the season (with 10 defeats). She is 15-5 in dual action at No. 1.

Stastny clinched the victory for the fourth time this season and 15th time in her career with a 6-1, 6-2 decision against Edelschein at No. 4. Only one Notre Dame player – 2002 graduate Lindsey Green (19 clinching wins) – has more career match-clinchers since the statistic debuted in 1999. Stastny leads the Irish in singles wins this season with a 28-7 record, including 19-3 in dual action. She has been nearly unbeatable in 2005-06, also going 32-6 in doubles for a combined singles and doubles mark of 60-13. She is just the third player in Irish history to post 60+ combined wins in a season, joining Dasso (who did it three times, including the school record of 74-19 in 2000-01) and 1999 grad Kelly Zalinski (who was 60-24 in 1998-99).

Buck was the unlucky player for the Irish on Friday. After missing a doubles win by just two points, she won all nine games she played in singles, but still saw her match at No. 2 against Gordon abandoned with her leading 6-0, 3-0. Connelly was up 6-0, 4-2 against Anela Dujsic at No. 6, while freshman Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) had taken the opening set by a 6-4 score against Markowitz at No. 5.

Notre Dame improved to 16-0 all-time in the rounds leading up to the title match of the BIG EAST tournament, with 15 of those contests being shutouts. The Irish are unbeaten in six all-time quarterfinal tilts and are 22-4 overall in the BIG EAST tournament.

It was the first time the schools had played in women’s tennis since 2000, and Notre Dame has won all four meetings overall.

[No. 1 seed] #2 Notre Dame 4, [No. 8 seed] Rutgers 0SinglesNo. 1:  #31 Catrina Thompson (ND) def. Katrina Elder-Bush (R) 6-0, 6-0No. 2:  #80 Brook Buck (ND) led Dana Gordon (R) 6-0, 3-0, abandonedNo. 3:  Kelcy Tefft (ND) def. Alina Balasa (R) 6-0, 6-0No. 4:  * Kristina Stastny (ND) def. Lauren Edelschein (R) 6-1, 6-2No. 5:  Katie Potts (ND) led Jill Markowitz (R) 6-4, abandonedNo. 6:  Lauren Connelly (ND) led Anela Dujsic (R) 6-0, 4-2, abandonedOrder of Finish: 3, 1, 4*DoublesNo. 1:  * #6 Thompson/Christian Thompson (ND) def. Balasa/Gordon (R) 8-2No. 2:  #38 Buck/Tefft (ND) led Elder-Bush/Ketevan Shmakova (R) 7-2, abandonedNo. 3:  Connelly/Stastny (ND) def. Edelschein/Markowitz (R) 8-2Order of Finish: 3, 1** - indicates clinching victory