May 18, 2006
The second-ranked and second-seeded University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (27-1) won 4-0 against #20 Kentucky (19-10) Thursday afternoon in the round of 16 of the NCAA Division I Championship at Stanford University’s Taube Tennis Center. The Irish – who have matched their deepest run in the national championship (also done in 1996) since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86 – have a familiar foe ahead in the quarterfinals, as ND will take on #7 Miami at 3 p.m. (PT) on Friday. Notre Dame and the Hurricanes faced off in the title match of the BIG EAST Conference Championship at Miami in all nine years (1996-2004) that they were league rivals, with the Irish taking five of those crowns.
Notre Dame won the doubles point for the 28th time in as many matches this season and then got quick straight-set wins at Nos. 2, 4, and 6 in singles – losing no more than five games in any of those contests. The Irish were up a set and a service break in one of the remaining matches, while the Wildcats – making their fifth consecutive trip to the round of 16 – had a one-set advantage on the remaining two courts.
The doubles portion of the match was tightly-contested, but the Irish prevailed. First to finish was the squad of seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), who fell behind 5-2 early, but rallied to win six consecutive games for an 8-5 victory against Danielle Petrisko and Caroline Winebrenner at No. 3. It was the ninth consecutive win for the Irish duo, which now stands 24-1 this spring (the only defeat coming in a tiebreaker) and 35-6 overall this season. The win tied the ND record for most victories in a season by a doubles team, as the pair of Becky Varnum and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso were 35-9 in 2000-01. It was the 110th career doubles triumph (compared to 38 defeats) for Connelly, which broke Dasso’s Irish record of 109. Connelly and Stastny improved to 13-2 outdoors this season and have now won 10 in a row away from home (21-4 season record). They have both played one match with different partners this spring and, thus, stand 25-1 in dual action. No Notre Dame player had ever won 25 dual doubles contests in a season prior to them, with Varnum and Dasso both going a program-best 24-3 in ’00-01. Stastny continued to be nearly perfect this spring, as she has a combined singles and doubles record of 45-4, which ties her with Jennifer Hall (1998-99) for the Irish record for most combined dual wins in a campaign.
Sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) did what they have done more times in a season than any other team in program history – clinch the doubles point. They earned their third service break of the match in the 13th game and then served out an 8-6 win against Lara Maurer and Joelle Schwenk at No. 2 to snap a 10-match winning streak for the UK duo. It was the 12th clinching victory for the Oklahomans this season (the previous ND record was 10). Buck and Tefft have won seven in a row and now stand 34-5 on the season, including 24-3 in dual matches. They are now 20-2 away from home and 11-2 outdoors and have an 8-2 mark in close matches (8-6, 9-7, 9-8).
“I think the big key to our match was the doubles,” said Irish head coach Jay Louderback. “We were down at No. 3 doubles, but came back and won, and our No. 2 team won a tight one. All year our confidence has been behind our doubles. Just the way we hung in there was a big factor for us.
Notre Dame was on the verge of a sweep, as junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) were serving for the No. 1 match at 8-7 against the 27th-ranked squad of Kim Coventry and Carolina Escamilla when that contest was abandoned.
First off the court in singles was Tefft, who won 6-1, 6-2 against Petris ko at No. 4. She has won seven in a row and 15 of her last 16 sets (with two more abandoned with her just a game from victory). Tefft is 20-4 in dual play and 28-5 overall and moved to 11-1 outdoors. Petrisko had been 13-4 at No. 4 this season.
Irish freshman Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) delivered a victory at one of Kentucky’s strongest spots, winning 6-3, 6-2 at No. 6 against another rookie, Jessica Giuggioli. Potts has won five in a row and is now 23-2 this spring in dual action and 29-5 overall as a collegian. She is 14-3 away from home and handed Giuggioli a rare loss at No. 6, where she had been 16-2.
Clinching the victory for the Irish was Christian Thompson, who beat Lara Maurer 6-3, 6-1 at No. 2. It was her third clinching win of the season, improving her record to 22-11 overall and 15-8 in dual matches.
Buck appeared to be headed to a victory at No. 3, leading 6-4, 2-0 against Schwenk when her match was abandoned. At No. 1, 49th-ranked Coventry was up 7-6 (8-6), 3-2 against 30th-ranked Catrina Thompson, and Escamilla was up 6-2, 5-5 at No. 5.
The Irish – now 12-1 this season against top-30 teams – edged ahead, 7-6, in the all-time series with the Wildcats that saw the teams meet 12 consecutive years in the regular season, most recently in 2003. It was the first matchup in the NCAA tournament between the schools.
Notre Dame improved to 17-12 all-time in the NCAA tournament. The only previous round-of-16 triumph came in a 5-0 decision against BYU in 1996. Notre Dame then fell 5-1 to eventual national champion Stanford in the quarters. ND moved to 13-3 when taking on lower-ranked teams in the NCAAs, as well as 9-7 in neutral-site contests.
The Hurricanes (22-6) won 4-1 against #23 Fresno State in the round of 16 after opening the NCAAs with 4-0 home wins against Boston University and Florida International. Miami and the Irish have played six common opponents this season: Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Wake Forest, and Wisconsin. Notre Dame was 6-0 against that group, while the Hurricanes were 7-1, with the lone blemish a 4-3 loss to the Longhorns (Miami also won a 4-3 match vs. Texas).
Miami and Notre Dame will play for the 16th time, with the Irish holding a 10-5 all-time advantage in the series. See pdf for further details of the ND-UM series.
[No. 2 seed] #2 Notre Dame 4, #20 Kentucky 0SinglesNo. 1: #49 Kim Coventry (K) led #30 Catrina Thompson (ND) 7-6 (8-6), 3-2, abandonedNo. 2: * #113 Christian Thompson (ND) def. Lara Maurer (K) 6-3, 6-1No. 3: Brook Buck (ND) led Joelle Schwenk (K) 6-4, 2-0, abandonedNo. 4: Kelcy Tefft (ND) def. Danielle Petrisko (K) 6-1, 6-2No. 5: Carolina Escamilla (K) led Kristina Stastny (ND) 6-2, 5-5, abandonedNo. 6: Katie Potts (ND) def. Jessica Giuggioli (K) 6-3, 6-2Order of Finish: 4, 6, 2*DoublesNo. 1: #5 Thompson/Thompson (ND) led #27 Coventry/Escamilla (K) 8-7, abandonedNo. 2: * Buck/Tefft (ND) def. Maurer/Schwenk (K) 8-6No. 3: Lauren Connelly/Stastny (ND) def. Petrisko/Caroline Winebrenner (K) 8-5Order of Finish: 3, 2** - indicates clinching victory
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