Feb. 12, 2006
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The 22nd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (4-0) won the doubles point and four of the five completed singles matches for a 5-1 victory against #10 North Carolina (7-2) Sunday afternoon in the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. The Irish – who earned their first victory against a top-10 team since 2001-02 – are off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 1997-98 and are 2-0 in a stretch of six straight matches against top-30 squads.
Notre Dame won at the bottom two spots in doubles and then earned straight-set victories at Nos. 1, 5, and 6 in singles, as well as a three-set triumph from junior Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) – that clinched the victory – at No. 2. The Tar Heels avoided the shutout with a three-set win at No. 3, and Notre Dame was up 5-3 in the third set at No. 4 when that contest was abandoned.
“This was a really good win for us,” said Irish head coach Jay Louderback. “Everyone played well, and we did a good job fighting back in singles, even after being down early in some of the matches.”
The last time the Irish beat a team ranked among the national top 10 was on Feb. 7, 2002, when they prevailed 5-2 against #7 USC in the opening round of the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Madison, Wis. It was the first time Notre Dame beat a top-10 squad on its home court since an 8-1 victory at #10 Wake Forest on April 9, 1998. Sunday marked the 14th time since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86 that the Irish defeated a top-10 team, but never before had Notre Dame been ranked so low at the time of the upset. The lowest-ranked ND squad to register a top-10 win prior to Sunday was the 1994 team that was ranked 17th when they won 5-2 over #10 Arizona on March 5 in the National Team Indoor Championship.
Notre Dame – the only Division I squad with three nationally-ranked duos – won the doubles point for the fourth time in as many matches this season. It came down to the No. 3 match, where seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), ranked 45th in the nation, defeated the 50th-ranked squad of Meg Fanjoy and Austin Smith 8-6. The Irish seniors lead the team with a 15-5 mark in doubles this season, including 3-1 against nationally-ranked teams. Stastny moved to 4-0 in her career when she is in the final match remaining with the doubles point still undecided.
“It was really important for us to win the doubles point,” said Louderback. “They did a great job getting it done at No. 3. Kiki served well late, and Lauren hit a drop volley winner from her toes that was a huge shot.”
The UNC duo of Sara Anundsen and Jenna Long – ranked 11th nationally after reaching the final in the second grand slam of the season, the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships – became just the second team to defeat the nation’s top-ranked squad, Irish junior All-America twins Christian and Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), taking an 8-3 decision at No. 1.
Sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.), ranked 35th, came back with an 8-4 win over Caitlin Collins and Tanja Markovic at No. 2 to put the match’s initial point in the hands of the No. 3 players. Buck and Tefft have won seven in a row and are 14-2 on the season (4-0 in dual action).
Off the court first in singles was Saturday’s hero, freshman Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.), who won in three sets in the final match remaining a day earlier to give ND a 4-3 triumph against #23 Wake Forest. This time she had a much easier time of it, beating Charlotte Tansill 6-2, 6-0 at No. 6. Potts has now won eight consecutive matches, dating back to Oct. 22, and stands 10-3 in her first collegiate season (4-0 in dual action).
Catrina Thompson, ranked 24th in singles, put Notre Dame within a point of victory by topping 28th-ranked Long 7-5, 6-4 at No. 1. The Irish junior improved to 13-6 on the season, including 3-1 in dual play at No. 1. She already has seven wins against nationally-ranked competition, and this matched her highest-ranked victory of the season, having topped then-#28 Anca Anastasiu of USC at No. 1 in an exhibition dual match on Oct. 14. Thompson is now 20-9 in her career at No. 1 singles.
Christian Thompson delivered the clinching victory for the second time this season and sixth time in her career by rallying for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph against 46th-ranked Caitlin Collins at No. 2. The Irish junior, ranked 44th, snapped a 12-match losing streak when dropping the opening set, rallying for a victory after being one set down for the fifth time in her career. She is 10-4 on the season (3-1 in dual play) and has a 6-3 mark against ranked opponents. It was Thompson’s second top-50 triumph of the season.
Soon thereafter, Stastny finished a 7-5, 7-6 (7-2) win over Markovic at No. 5 in a battle of seniors to make the score 5-0. The Notre Dame player has now won six in a row for the first time in her career and has not dropped a set since Nov. 4. Stastny shares the team lead in singles wins with Catrina Thompson, standing 13-4 on the season (4-0 dual).
North Carolina – which had lost only to #1 Stanford in eight matches prior to Sunday – avoided the shutout when Anundsen beat Buck 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 at No. 3. The Tar Heel junior improved to 12-4 on the season.
Tefft had rallied back from losing the opening set to lead 3-6, 6-4, 5-3 against Smith at No. 4, but that match was abandoned.
Notre Dame snapped a five-match losing streak against the Tar Heels, beating UNC for the first time since 2000-01. The Irish now trail the all-time series with Carolina by a 6-5 count. It was the sixth consecutive meeting between the teams in which both were ranked among the national top 25.
Next up for the Irish is a trip to #29 Michigan on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. (EST) contest. Live scoring updates will be available via www.mgoblue.com and will be linked on www.und.com. After that, Notre Dame will return home next weekend to face #20 Tennessee on Saturday at Noon (EST) and #9 Harvard on Sunday at 10 a.m.
#22 Notre Dame 5, #10 North Carolina 1SinglesNo. 1: #24 Catrina Thompson (ND) def. #28 Jenna Long (UNC) 7-5, 6-4No. 2: * #44 Christian Thompson (ND) def. #46 Caitlin Collins (UNC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4No. 3: Sara Anundsen (UNC) def. Brook Buck 6-3, 3-6, 6-2No. 4: Kelcy Tefft (ND) led Austin Smith (UNC) 3-6, 6-4, 5-3, abandonedNo. 5: Kristina Stastny (ND) def. Tanja Markovic (UNC) 7-5, 7-6 (7-2)No. 6: Katie Potts (ND) def. Charlotte Tansill (UNC) 6-2, 6-0Order of Finish: 6, 1, 2*, 5, 3DoublesNo. 1: #11 Anundsen/Long (UNC) def. #1 Thompson/Thompson (ND) 8-3No. 2: #35 Buck/Tefft (ND) def. Collins/Markovic (UNC) 8-4No. 3: * #45 Lauren Connelly/Stastny (ND) def. #50 Meg Fanjoy/Smith (UNC) 8-6Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3*