March 23, 2006
#2 Notre Dame (15-0) vs. #39 Iowa (9-2)Friday, March 23, 3 p.m. (ET) â€¢ Eck Tennis Pavilion â€¢Notre Dame, Indiana- Live Scoring Updates: und.com
#2 IRISH RETURN HOME TO FACE IOWA FRIDAY AFTERNOON: The second-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (15-0) will look to go 16-0 for the first time in the 30-year history of the varsity program when it plays host to #39 Iowa (9-2) – riding an eight-match winning streak of its own – Friday at 3 p.m. (EST) in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish – who have won 13 in a row at home – have won eight in a row against the Hawkeyes, including victories in the NCAA tournament in both 2004 and `05.
SCOUTING IOWA: The Hawkeyes have a 9-2 record and are 39th in the ITA national rankings after being a season-high 38th last week … they are coming off an 11-day hiatus that followed back-to-back 4-3 road wins against Kansas and Kansas State … they beat Minnesota 4-3 in their Big Ten Conference opener on Feb. 17 and will not play another non-conference affair after Friday … Iowa has won eight in a row, dating back to a 5-2 defeat at Denver on Feb. 3 … the Hawkeyes will wrap up a 10-match road trip this weekend and play six of their final eight matches at home … Iowa started the season 44th and fell to a low of 48th before rising up last week … its other defeat came in a 5-2 decision at home against #9 Baylor on Jan. 29 … like the Irish, the Hawkeyes are unbeaten in 4-3 affairs this season, having topped Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Kansas State … Iowa returned four of six starters from last year’s team that was 14-10 and ranked 45th in the nation … the Hawkeyes finished third in the Big Ten (behind Northwestern and Indiana) with a 7-3 record and lost 4-3 to Michigan in the semifinals of the league tournament … Iowa earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and was sent to Evanston, Ill., to take on Notre Dame in the opening round for the second straight year, losing 4-1 … the top player on the Hawkeyes is junior Meg Racette, who is currently ranked 33rd nationally in singles after being a career-high 21st earlier this spring … she is 17-6 overall and 9-2 in dual action at No. 1, including a current seven-match winning streak and a win against defending NCAA singles champion Zuzana Zemenova of Baylor … there were three ND-Iowa matches in October’s ITA Midwest Championships, with the Irish winning two … head coach Daryl Greenan is in his second season as head coach of the Hawkeyes, having compiled a 23-12 (.657) record, including 0-2 against Notre Dame … Iowa resumes league play on Sunday at #66 Ohio State.
IRISH-HAWKEYES SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and Iowa will meet for the eighth consecutive season and 14th time overall, with the Irish holding a 12-1 edge inthe series (see page 42 of the ND media guide for scores of every match), including eight consecutive victories … the lone Hawkeyes’ triumph in the series came in the second round of the 1999 NCAA Championship at Notre Dame’s Courtney Tennis Center, when 38th-ranked Iowa upset #12 ND 5-4 … the Irish and Hawkeyes have met three times in the NCAAs, with Notre Dame winning in both 2004 and `05 by 4-1 scores in Evanston, Ill. … no other school has faced ND more times in the NCAAs (Northwestern and Stanford have both played the Irish three times, as well) … there are just five schools (Purdue-18, Illinois-18, Michigan-16, Ohio State-14, Wisconsin-14) against which Notre Dame has more all-time victories … the Irish are 8-1 against Iowa at home, where each of the last eight regular-season matches have taken place … the schools first played in 1985, with the Irish prevailing 8-1 in Iowa City … the schools played again in the fall of 1985-86 and the spring of 1990-91, but then did not square off again until the current incarnation of the series began in 1999 … the schools have played 10 times in the seven years since then … last season, the Irish won 7-0 on Feb. 27 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion and 4-1 in the opening round of the NCAAs on May 13 at Northwestern … in the regular season, the Irish won at Nos. 1 and 3 in doubles to take a 1-0 lead and then won every match in singles … Notre Dame got straight-set wins at Nos. 2-5 and won a match tiebreaker at No. 1 …in the NCAAs, the Irish won quickly at the top two spots to win the doubles point and then got straight-set wins at Nos. 1, 3, and 6 in singles … Iowa won in two sets at No. 4, while the No. 2 match was in a third set and the No. 5 contest appeared to be headed to one … this will be the 12th consecutive meeting in which Notre Dame is the higher-ranked team, but this is the highest-ranked Irish squad ever faced by Iowa … this is the fifth consecutive match in which both team is ranked.
ND REMAINS ALL-TIME HIGH OF #2 IN FILA COLLEGIATE TENNIS RANKINGS: After an undefeated Spring Break trip that featured wins against #5 Duke, #48 Texas A&M, and #11 Texas, the Irish remained at #2 in this week’s Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, determined by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) computer formula. It matches the highest ITA ranking for Notre Dame since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86, after the Irish ascended to that spot on March 7. Notre Dame made up a bit of ground on two-time defending NCAA champion Stanford, as the Irish computer average of 94.80 is 5.40 behind the Cardinal’s 100.20 (last week’s margin was 7.80). Stanford has won 71 consecutive matches, dating back to the title match of the 2003 NCAA tournament. Rounding out the top five are USC, Northwestern, and North Carolina. In all, 19 of Notre Dame’s 23 regular-season opponents are listed among the 75 teams in this week’s rankings, with nine in the top 25: #4 Northwestern (April 5, home), #5 North Carolina (W, 5-1), #10 Duke (W, 4-3), #12 Vanderbilt (March 29, away), #15 Texas (W, 7-0), #16 Wake Forest (W, 4-3), #19 Harvard (W, 5-2), #23 Brigham Young (W, 5-2), and #24 Tennessee (W, 7-0). Additionally, the Irish lost 4-3 to USC – currently ranked fourth – during the fall in exhibition action.
IRISH LOOK FOR FIRST-EVER 16-0 START: Notre Dame’s 15 consecutive victories to open the season has tied the best start in program history, first done by the 1983-84 team. That squad – which would finish 20-5 and take third place in the NCAA Division II Championship – started 15-0 before losing 7-2 at home against Michigan on March 27.
ND’S BEST UNDEFEATED STARTS: See pdf for a list of Notre Dame’s best runs of consecutive victories to start a season.
BOTTOM OF ND LINEUP STANDS 69-5: The key to Notre Dame’s 15-0 start this season has been its outstanding depth, as the Irish hold a combined 69-5 (.932) mark in the bottom part of their lineups. Notre Dame is 40-4 (.909) combined at Nos. 4-6 in singles, as well as 29-1 (.967) at Nos. 2-3 doubles.
IRISH 15-0 AT No. 6 SINGLES AND No. 3 DOUBLES: Thus far this spring, Notre Dame remains unbeaten in the bottom positions in both of its lineups. Freshman Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) is 1-0 at No. 6 singles, while senior captain Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop Gorman H.S.) is 3-0, and senior Kelly Nelson (St. Petersburg, Fla./Shorecrest Preparatory School) won there against Xavier. Connelly and fellow senior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) are 11-0 at No. 3 doubles, with Potts holding two victories there with junior Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and one each with Nelson and junior Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.).
ND 41-4 IN DOUBLES THIS SPRING: Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable in partnered play this spring, going 41-4 (.911), winning the doubles point in all 15 matches. The Irish are 12-3 at No. 1, 14-1 at No. 2, and a perfect 15-0 at No. 3. In 27 of those contests (60%), the Irish have lost just three games or fewer. On the season, Notre Dame teams have combined for a 73-16 (.820) 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 third nationally after giving ND its first-ever grand slam title at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, stand 15-3 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 29th and sporting a 23-4 record (they had an 11-match winning streak snapped on Feb. 26 when they moved up to the No. 1 spot). Seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) stand 15-0 this spring and are 26-5 overall (3-1 against ranked teams) and 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.
CONNELLY/STASTNY 15-0 THIS SPRING: Irish seniors Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) and Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) are 15-0 this spring, having played mostly at No. 3 doubles. Their last defeat came on Nov. 6 in an 8-6 match against Illinois’ Brianna Knue and Macall Harkins in the Illini’s tournament, Midwest Blast VII. It is 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. This, however, is not the longest doubles winnng streak in the career of Connelly, who won 13 in a row from April 3-Oct. 14, 2004, with two different partners. ND sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) also had won 11 in a row before falling in a tiebreaker on Feb. 26 against Wisconsin’s 30th-ranked team of Caitlin Burke and Nicole Beck at No. 1.
TEFFT CARRYING 10-MATCH WINNING STREAK: Freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) – who normally plays No. 4 – has won 10 consecutive matches in singles, dating back to a match-tiebreaker defeat against Debra Streifler of Michigan on Feb. 15. Tefft is 20-2 on the season, including 12-1 in dual action.
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 49-2 (.961) record in dual action. Stastny leads the way at 13-2 in singles (mostly at No. 5) and 15-0 in doubles, all with Connelly (mostly at No. 3). The Irish captain is 4-0 in singles, with Nelson adding a win in both singles and 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 43-4 (.915) record this spring. Tefft leads the way at 12-1 in singles (mostly at No. 4), as well as 13-2 in doubles (mostly at No. 2), while Potts is 14-1 in singles (mostly at No. 6) and a 4-0 record at No. 3 doubles.
IRISH WIN 15+ IN A ROW FOR THIRD TIME: Notre Dame’s 15-0 start to the spring marks the third time in the 30-year varsity history of the program that the Irish have fashioned a streak of at least 15 consecutive victories. It is the longest winning streak for Notre Dame since winning 16 straight from May 10, 1983 – March 24, 1984 (final match of 1982-83 and first 15 of `83-84). The program record for consecutive victories is 20, which included the final nine matches of the 1979 (fall only) campaign, as well as the first 15 in 1980-81.
LONGEST IRISH WINNING STREAKS: See pdf for a list of the longest winning streaks in the 30-year varsity history of Notre Dame women’s tennis.
ND BOASTING 13-MATCH WINNING STREAK AT HOME: Notre Dame has won 13 consecutive matches at home – four against top-25 opponents – since falling 4-3 to #13 Texas in the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Feb. 26, 2005. It is the eighth time in the 30-year varsity history of the program that the Irish have won 10 or more in a row at home. The previous such instance was a 13-match streak from Feb. 4, 2001 – Jan. 26, 2002. The longest home winning streak ever for Notre Dame was a stretch of 25 matches from Sept. 12, 1979 – Sept. 22, 1982.
LONGEST IRISH HOME WINNING STREAKS: See pdf for a list of the longest home winning streaks in the 30-year varsity history of Notre Dame women’s tennis.
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 BOAST THREE TOP-10 WINS FOR JUST SECOND TIME IN PROGRAM HISTORY: 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, and topped #5 Duke (4-3) on March 15 in Orlando, Fla. The 2005-06 Irish squad is just the second in the 30-year history of the program to beat three 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).
TOP ALL-TIME IRISH WINS: See pdf for 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.
ND 9-0 AGAINST TOP-30 TEAMS: Notre Dame’s 15-0 start has seen the Irish take on nine 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), and #11 Texas (7-0). During a 15-day stretch from Feb. 11-25, Notre Dame played six matches, with all of them against top-30 teams.
PUTTING THEM AWAY FAST: Not only has Notre Dame won all of its dual matches this spring, but it has put most of them away early, going up 4-0 in 11 of the 15 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). The other contest in which ND did not clinch the match before the other side scored a point was on Feb. 25 against #20 Brigham Young, when the Irish clinched it at 4-1.
LOUDERBACK REGISTERS 500th CAREER WIN, THREE AWAY FROM 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 his second-ranked Irish won 4-3 at Texas A&M on March 18. He is now just three victories away from his 300th since taking over the reins of the Notre Dame program in 1989-90. Louderback holds a 501-324 (.607) overall record, including 297-146 (.670) 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 297-147 (.670) record and his 26th year as a collegiate coach with a 501-325 (.607) 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 212 of 214 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.
STREAKS: The following streaks are active heading into this weekend:
– Notre Dame is 15-0 this season. [last loss: 5/14/05 at #6 Northwestern, 4-0, NCAA second round]
– Notre Dame has won 13 consecutive home matches. [last loss: 2/26/05 vs. #13 Texas, 4-3]
– Notre Dame has won the doubles point in all 15 matches this sason. [last doubles-point loss: 5/14/05 vs. #6 Northwestern, lost at Nos. 2 and 3]
– Notre Dame has won at No. 6 singles in 19 consecutive matches. [last loss: 4/10/05, Indiana’s Cecile Perton def. Sarah Jane Connelly 6-1, 1-6, 6-3]
– Notre Dame has won at No. 3 doubles in every match this season. [last loss: 5/14/05, Northwestern’s Feriel Esseghir/Valerie Vladea def. Sarah Jane Connelly/Kristina Stastny 8-4]
– Notre Dame has won 25 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]
– Notre Dame has won six consecutive 4-3 matches. [last loss: 3/29/05 at Wisconsin]
– Christian Thompson is 8-0 in her career in singles matches against BIG EAST Conference players.
– Catrina Thompson/Christian Thompson are 4-0 this season in close matches (8-6, 9-7, 9-8). [last loss: 4/13/05 vs. Illinois’ Goulet/Wang 8-6]
– Catrina Thompson/Christian Thompson have been ranked higher than their opponents in 18 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 56 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 48 consecutive matches. [last time ranked below 10th: 5/26/04 vs. William & Mary’s Megan Muth/Amy Wei, Thompsons ranked 36th]
– Kelcy Tefft has won 10 consecutive singles matches. [last loss: 2/15/06 vs. Michigan’s Debra Streifler 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 1-0 (10-3)]
– Kristina Stastny has won 16 consecutive matches when taking the opening set. [last loss: 9/30/05 vs. Kansas State’s Tamar Kvaratskhelia 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8)]
– Kristina Stastny is 4-0 in her career as the final match remaining with the doubles point still undecided.
– Lauren Connelly/Kristina Stastny have won 15 consecutive matches in doubles. [last loss: 11/6/05 vs. Illinois’ Knue/Harkins 8-6]
– Katie Potts is 18-0 as a collegian when winning the first set.
– Lauren Connelly has won seven consecutive singles matches. [last loss: 10/23/05 vs. #50 Alexis Prousis of Northwestern, 6-0, 6-2]
– Lauren Connelly has won 13 consecutive sets in singles. [last loss: 11/4/05 vs. Illinois’ Emily Wang, 6-2 in second set]
– Lauren Connelly has won seven consecutive singles matches against BIG EAST Conference players (9-1 career record). [only loss: 4/12/03 vs. Miami’s Sara Robbins 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (10-4)]
– Kelly Nelson has won four consecutive singles matches. [last loss: 10/21/05 vs. Michigan’s Allie Shafner, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2]
– Kelly Nelson is 8-0 this season in close sets (6-4, 7-5, or 7-6). [last loss: 11/9/03 vs. Illinois’ Emily Wang, 7-6 in second set]
– Kelly Nelson has won six consecutive close singles matches (three sets, match tiebreaker, or two sets with difference of games of 4 or fewer). [last loss: 11/7/03 vs. Virginia’s Caroline Hammond 6-7 (7-4), 6-4, 6-1]
– Kelly Nelson has won five consecutive singles matches outdoors. [last loss: 9/23/05 vs. West Virginia’s Monica Lyskawa 6-3, 6-2]
MOST WINS VS. ONE TEAM: See pdf for the list of schools Notre Dame has defeated most in its 30 seasons of varsity women’s tennis.
LONGEST WINNING STREAKS: See pdf for the longest winning streaks against a single opponent in the 30 seasons of Notre Dame varsity women’s tennis.
MOST WINS IN LOUDERBACK ERA: See pdf for the list of schools Notre Dame has defeated most since head coach Jay Louderback began his tenure in 1989-90.
POTTS POSTS LONGEST IRISH SINGLES WINNING STREAK SINCE 1996: Rookie Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) won 16 consecutive singles matches from Oct. 22-March 10. After falling 7-5, 6-4 to Northwestern’s Nazlie Ghazal in the opening round of the ITA Midwest Championships on Oct. 22, she did not lose again until March 15, in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 decision against Duke’s Kristin Cargill at No. 5 singles (one spot above her normal position). It was 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.
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 100-37 mark and is just nine 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: 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. The younger Connelly’s current doubles partner, fellow senior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), has 22 career clinching wins to her credit. 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 ADD MARCH 31 HOME MATCH WITH EASTERN MICHIGAN: Notre Dame has added another match to its spring slate, as the Irish will play host to Eastern Michigan on Friday, March 31 at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Notre Dame’s originally-scheduled match at Tulane on April 15 has been cancelled, since the Green Wave program was suspended in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That changed freed up a date for the Irish to schedule another match.
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 212 of 214 (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.
WOMEN’S TENNIS “GOLD GAME” SET FOR APRIL 5 vs. #4 NORTHWESTERN: Notre Dame’s matchup with #4 Northwestern on Wednesday, April 5 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) has been designated as this season’s women’s tennis “Gold Game,” a distinction created by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council to encourage the entire Notre Dame community to attend particular contests. The match will feature the two teams that have been consistently the top squads in the Midwest Region over the past decade. Northwestern has won the last seven matches in the series – with three of those coming by 4-3 scores – after the Irish had won six straight prior to that. In the Wildcats’ last visit, NU won a third-set tiebreaker in the decisive match to win 4-3.
ND SIGNS TRIO OF TOP RECRUITS, INCLUDING NATION’S #1 PLAYER: 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. 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.
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.