May 11, 2005
NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship
Evanston, Illinois â€¢ Vandy Christie Tennis Center
First Round — Friday, May 13
#23 Notre Dame (14-9) vs. #46 Iowa (14-9), 10 a.m. (CDT/EST)
– Hotline Updates: Notre Dame Sports Hotline, 574-631-3000, #8, #2
– Live Stats: nusports.com (also linked on und.com)
[No. 5 seed] #6 Northwestern (24-2) vs. Valparaiso (15-4), 2 p.m. (CDT/EST)
– Live Stats: nusports.com (also linked on und.com)
Second Round — Saturday, May 14
First-Round Winners, Noon (CDT/EST)
– Hotline Updates: Notre Dame Sports Hotline, 574-631-3000, #8, #2 (if ND is in match)
– Live Stats: nusports.com (also linked on und.com)
#23 IRISH HEAD BACK TO #6 NORTHWESTERN FOR NCAAs, WILL FACE IOWA IN OPENING ROUND: The 23rd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (14-9), making its 10th consecutive postseason appearance and 12th in the last 13 years, will head to Evanston, Ill., to face #46 Iowa (14-9) in the opening round action of the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship on Friday at 10 a.m. (CDT/EST) at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center. The tournament’s No. 5 seed, #6 Northwestern (24-2), will play host to Valparaiso (15-4) at 2 p.m. that day, with the winners meeting on Saturday at Noon for a spot in the round of 16. It is the third time in the last four years that Notre Dame is playing NCAA action at Northwestern, as well as the second straight year the Irish and Hawkeyes will hook up in the opening round.
HOTLINE TO FEATURE IN-MATCH UPDATES: Fans and media unable to attend the NCAA tournament action at Northwestern will be able to keep up with the action via the Notre Dame Sports Hotline, which will feature in-match updates during all Notre Dame matches. The hotline will be updated regularly — at least every half hour and more frequently if the action warrants. These reports can be accessed by dialing (574) 631-3000 and selecting option #8 for tennis and #2 for women’s tennis. In addition, the official athletic website of the University of Notre Dame, www.und.com, will feature recaps of all the Irish action at the end of each day.
LIVE SCORING: Fans and media also will be able to access semi-live scoring updates via the official website of Northwestern athletics, nusports.com. That also will be linked on Notre Dame’s site, und.com, and ncaasports.com.
IRISH IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: For the fourth time in as many years, Notre Dame will go on the road for first- and second round action in the NCAA tournament. This is the sixth year in which the NCAA Team Championship will consist of a 64-team field, with 31 conference champions garnering automatic bids and 33 at-large entries as chosen by the NCAA Women’s Tennis Committee. The first two rounds of the team championship are being contested at 16 campus sites this weekend. The 16 remaining teams will advance to the national site, the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., for the final four rounds of the tournament, to be contested May 19-22. Notre Dame has qualified for the team portion of the NCAA Championships for the 10th consecutive year and the 12th time in the last 13 seasons, all under the guidance of current head coach Jay Louderback. The best finish for the Irish came in 1996, when they reached the quarterfinals before losing to Stanford, 5-1, in Tallahassee, Fla. Notre Dame has advanced to the round of 16 four other times (1993, `94, 2000, and `01). This will be the third time in four seasons that ND has traveled to Northwestern for early-round action. The Irish lost 4-2 in the opening round against Wisconsin in `02 and then beat Iowa 4-1 in the first round a year ago before losing 4-1 to the 10th-seeded host. Notre Dame is 13-11 all-time in NCAA Championship play and has won at least one match in all but one of its previous appearances in the national tournament. The Irish are 7-7 in NCAA competition when playing away from home, 0-2 in true road matches and 7-5 in neutral-court action. ND is 10-3 when playing lower-ranked teams, 2-8 against higher-ranked teams, and 1-0 vs. teams with the same national ranking. The Irish also had a good deal of success in the national championship before moving up to the Division I level. In its final four years as a Division II competitor, Notre Dame tied for sixth in the AIAW national tournament in 1982, then took third in the NCAAs a year later, repeated that finish in 1984, and was the runner-up to Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1985. In addition to its recent team success, Notre Dame has sent at least one player to either the NCAA singles or doubles tournament every year since 1989. For the 11th time in 13 years, the Irish will have entrants in both the singles and doubles events this season. Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) earned an invitation to the 64-player NCAA Singles Championship, while she and twin sister Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) are in the doubles tournament for the second time in as many years. The singles event begins May 23, while the doubles competition commences the following day, with both concluding May 28. Both take place at the Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. Notre Dame posted its best individual singles finish in 2001, when current assistant coach Michelle Dasso surged all the way to the NCAA semifinals before falling to eventual national champion Laura Granville of Stanford (who has been ranked among the top 30 in the world since turning pro). Three Irish doubles teams have reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, with Dasso and Jennifer Hall the most recent tandem to do so in 1999. Hall and Tiffany Gates turned the trick in 1998, and Wendy Crabtree and Lisa Tholen were the first Irish pair to advance to the round of eight, in 1994.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Jay Louderback is in his 16th season at Notre Dame with a 281-145 (.660) record and his 26th year as a collegiate coach with a 485-323 (.600) mark. He ranks fifth among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories. Louderback’s Irish have finished in the national top 30 in each of the last 12 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 201 of 203 sets of ITA rankings. 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 nine years in the BIG EAST. In his time at Notre Dame, Louderback’s players have earned All-America honors 13 times, won four national ITA awards, and earned 20 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 12 to the NCAA doubles tournament. 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.
ITA RANKINGS: Despite being idle, Notre Dame moved up one spot to 23rd in the penultimate edition of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings, released on May 2. The Irish were 21st to begin the spring before peaking at 20th (Feb. 15 and 22) and then falling to 31st (April 5) prior to climbing back into the top 25. Notre Dame has two ranked singles players and a pair of ranked doubles teams. Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) is 44th in singles and sixth in doubles, with her twin sister, Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.). Freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Bishop Gorman H.S.) is 87th in singles. The final team and individual rankings for the season will be released June 3.
IRISH WIN SIXTH BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: Top-seeded Notre Dame registered a pair of shutouts in claiming the BIG EAST Conference championship last month at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The Irish earned a bye in the opening round and then beat St. John’s 4-0 in the semifinals before winning by the same score in the title match against Syracuse. It was Notre Dame’s sixth league title in its 10 years as a league member and its 10th consecutive trip to the tournament final.
IRISH ONE OF 11 TEAMS TO HAVE BEEN IN 12+ NCAA TOURNAMENTS SINCE 1993: Notre Dame first appeared in the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship in 1993 and has missed out on the national tournament just once (1995) since then. Only 10 other schools have been invited to 12+ NCAA tournaments since 1993: Arizona State, California, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Pepperdine, USC, Stanford, Texas, and UCLA.
NOTRE DAME IN NCAAs FOR 10TH CONSECUTIVE YEAR: After missing the tournament in 1995, Notre Dame returned to the NCAA Championship in 1996 and has earned an invitation in every season since then, extending its streak to 10 years when the field was announced for the 2005 event. There are just 19 schools that have earned invitations to all of the last 10 NCAA tournaments: Arizona State, California, Duke, Florida, Fresno State, Georgia, Louisiana State, Miami, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Pepperdine, South Alabama, South Carolina, USC, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, and Vanderbilt.
ND SEES 16 OF 21 REGULAR-SEASON OPPONENTS EARN NCAA BIDS: Of the 21 teams on Notre Dame’s regular-season schedule, 16 of them earned berths in the NCAA Championship: Vanderbilt (No. 4 seed), Northwestern (No. 5), Texas (No. 11), North Carolina (No. 13), Brigham Young (No. 15), Tennessee (No. 16 seed), Duke, Harvard, Indiana, Iowa, Long Beach State, Michigan, UNLV, Wake Forest, William & Mary, and Wisconsin. The Irish were 7-9 against those teams.
Catrina Thompson NAMED BIG EAST TOURNAMENT MVP: Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) became the first Irish player in four years to be named the BIG EAST Women’s Tennis Most Outstanding Tournament Performer, when the conference awards were announced last month. She is the third Irish player to win the BIG EAST’s highest individual award, joining Jennifer Hall (1996) and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso (2000 and ’01). She was the only player to emerge victorious in singles in both the semifinals and final. Initially, Thompson topped Barbora Blahutiakova of St. John’s 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 before defeating Syracuse’s Victoria Vaynberg 6-3, 6-1 in the title match. In doubles, she first defeated Allison Davidson and Hande Gorur 8-4 in the final match on court to clinch the doubles point in the semis. In the final, Thompson again provided the clinching victory, topping Vaynberg and Catherine Zawadzki 8-3 at No. 1. She improved to 8-1 in her career in doubles against BIG EAST foes.
A TOUGH PLACE TO WIN: Notre Dame, Iowa, and Valparaiso will face a stiff challenge this week, in trying to advance past Northwestern, as the Wildcats were 12-0 at home this season and carry a 30-match home winning streak into the NCAAs. Northwestern also has won 27 in a row against Midwest Region opponents (all of which ND, UI, and Valpo are), as well as 49 straight at home vs. regional foes, dating back to a loss against Illinois in 2000. Notre Dame’s last victory against the `Cats came at home in 2000 in a 6-3 decision. The Irish did win in three out of four trips to Northwestern from 1993-99, prevailing 6-2 in `93, losing 5-4 in `95, then winning 4-3 in `97 and 5-4 in `99. ND is 3-12 all-time in Evanston, including defeats in 2001, `03, `04 (NCAA second round), and `05.
SOME OF THE NATION’S BEST CONVERGE ON EVANSTON: Six singles players and three doubles teams listed in the national rankings will be at the Northwestern subregional: #4 Audra Cohen and #21 Cristelle Grier of Northwestern, #44 Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) of Notre Dame, #76 Alexis Prousis of Northwestern, #87 Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) of Notre Dame, #104 Meg Racette of Iowa, #2 Cohen/Grier, #6 Thompson/Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), and #52 Prousis/Kristi Roemer.
Catrina Thompson VOTED TEAM MVP: Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) was voted the team’s Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player by her teammates. Playing atop both Irish lineups, she holds a 22-8 record in singles, including 16-7 in dual action at No. 1, and a 27-6 mark in doubles (19-4 at No. 1). Thompson earned invitations to both the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments, and she is ranked 44th nationally in singles and sixth in doubles. She has made No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles the winningest positions in the ND lineups this season, her first playing atop the singles lineup and her second at No. 1 doubles. Thompson is the first sophomore to win the award since Alicia Salas did so in 2001-02.
IRISH DOMINATE BIG EAST ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS: Notre Dame took up four of the six spots on the all-tournament team, as well as two of three in doubles, when the BIG EAST Conference awards were announced last month. Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) — who was the tournament MVP — her twin sister Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), and freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) all earned BIG EAST accolades in both singles and doubles. Senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) was a singles selection and her sister, junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), garnered doubles honors.
THOMPSONS EARN SEED IN NCAA DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP, CLINCH ALL-AMERICA HONORS: Sophomore twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), currently ranked sixth in Division I after becoming the first Notre Dame doubles team ever to reach #1 earlier this spring, earned one of the No. 5-8 seeds in the NCAA Doubles Championship, slated for May 24-28 at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens. The seeding guarantees that they will be named All-Americans by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) at the conclusion of the season. The Thompsons stand 25-6 on the season, including a 13-3 mark against nationally-ranked teams (3-1 vs. higher-ranked teams). They are 17-4 at No. 1 doubles this season and have won six of their last eight, despite closing the regular season with their first two-match losing skid of 2004-05. The Thompsons are 17-5 on the road this season and 12-3 outdoors. After finishing their rookie campaign – in which they became the first all-freshman doubles team from any Division I school since 1998 to earn a trip to the NCAA doubles tournament – 26th in the rankings, the sisters were #7 in the preseason, and they ascended to the top spot on Feb. 22. The Thompsons – who were the top-ranked 18-and-under girls’ doubles team in the U.S. prior to their arrival at Notre Dame – last year upset the 15th-ranked team of Cynthya Goulet and Jennifer McGaffigan in three sets in the opening round of the NCAA doubles event, but then lost in three sets against Megan Muth and Amy Wei of William & Mary. The Thompsons played 11 matches against NCAA qualifiers this season – including six straight last fall – posting a 7-4 record. The Thompson twins were the only team in the country to reach the semifinals of the first two legs of the collegiate grand slam. They were the runners-up in last October’s Riviera/ITA All-American Championships before falling in the semis of the November ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. The twins will try to complete the grand slam with another strong showing at the NCAAs, which has never seen an Irish team reach the semis (three have lost in the quarterfinals). Only six other teams earned invitations to both the ’04 and ’05 events, with the others being Sarah Foster/Aibika Kalsarieva (Kentucky), Chloe Carlotti/Virginia Tomatis (Mississippi), Kentdall Cline/Aniela Mojzis (North Carolina), Katie Ruckert/Kendra Strohm (Texas), Dianne Hollands/Maja Mlakar (Arizona), and Michelle DaCosta/Kara Delicata (Michigan).
Catrina Thompson EARNS INVITATIONS TO NCAA SINGLES & DOUBLES TOURNAMENTS: Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) earned invitations to both the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Singles Championship and the NCAA doubles tournament – along with her twin sister, Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) – when the fields for the national individual championships were announced. Catrina Thompson is in an elite group of just 28 players in the country that earned spots in both the singles and doubles draws. The events are slated for May 23-28 at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. She enters the postseason ranked 44th nationally in singles and sixth in doubles. This also marks the 10th time in the last 13 years that a Notre Dame player has garnered a spot in both the NCAA singles and doubles championships, but it was done previously by just three individuals: Wendy Crabtree (1993, ’94, ’95), Jennifer Hall (1997, ’98, ’99), and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso (1999, 2000, ’01). Thompson currently stands 22-8 on the season, with a 10-8 record against nationally-ranked players (5-3 against higher-ranked foes). She has a 16-7 mark in her first season at No. 1 singles – being the first sophomore to play No. 1 for ND since Dasso did so in 1999. Thompson, who has won eight of her last 10 matches and was last week named the BIG EAST tournament MVP, has a 16-4 record away from home this season and an 8-4 mark outdoors. She is 20-0 when winning the opening set and 10-2 vs. regional opponents, including an impressive 6-2, 6-2 upset of Northwestern’s Audra Cohen in dual-match action last month (it was the freshman phenom’s first straight-set defeat of her collegiate career). Thompson was ranked 103rd in the preseason, and she peaked at a career-high 32nd in February. Ten of her matches this season came against players that earned NCAA berths, and Thompson held a 5-5 record against that group, with the victories coming against Harvard’s Courtney Bergman, North Carolina’s Aniela Mojzis, Petra Dizdar of Texas, Oklahoma State’s Iryna Tkachenko, and Cohen. The other elite players who earned NCAA invitations in both singles and doubles were Alice Barnes (Stanford), Daniela Bercek (UCLA), Megan Bradley (Miami), Erin Burdette (Stanford), Chloe Carlotti (Mississippi), Kendall Cline (North Carolina), Karin Coetzee (Wake Forest), Audra Cohen (Northwestern), Julie Coin (Clemson), Kim Coventry (Kentucky), Audra Falk (Vanderbilt), Zsuzsanna Fodor (Mississippi State), Sarah Foster (Kentucky), Cristelle Grier (Northwestern), Dianne Hollands (Arizona), Maja Kovacek (New Mexico), Amber Liu (Stanford), Kristi Miller (Georgia Tech), Aniela Mojzis (North Carolina), Mihaela Moldovan (Florida State), Megan Moulton-Levy (William & Mary), Zerene Reyes (Florida), Shadisha Robinson (Georgia), Story Tweedie-Yates (TCU), Anne Yelsey (Stanford), Marianna Yuferova (Virginia Commonwealth), and Riza Zalameda (UCLA). That group of 28 features 16 players from the ITA’s South Region and seven more from the West Region, while two others – Cohen and Grier – are from the Midwest Region. Fifteen of the players are Americans, while 12 are still in the first half of their collegiate careers. Thompson is one of just eight players to fall into both of those categories, establishing her as one of the top young Americans in the college game. The others in that group are Cohen, Foster, Miller, Moulton-Levy, Robinson, Yelsey, and Zalameda.
THE ND-IOWA REGULAR-SEASON MATCH: Notre Dame, ranked a season-high 20th at the time, snapped a three-match losing streak by shutting out #57 Iowa by a 7-0 score on Feb. 27 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish — who improved to 5-5 — won the doubles point and then claimed straight-set victories at each of the bottom five positions in singles to clinch the win, losing no more than five total games in any of those matches and just 29 total in singles play. Notre Dame won at the top and bottom position in doubles and then completed its shutout with a match-tiebreaker triumph at No. 1 singles. The Irish played well in doubles, taking the match’s initial point for the ninth time in 10 contests. First off the court was the team of senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), who beat freshmen Jacqueline Lee and Morgan Tuttle 8-2 at No. 3. The #1-ranked team in college tennis, sophomore twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), earned their first win after becoming the first Irish doubles team ever to top the national rankings, downing the 59th-ranked pair of Hillary Mintz and Meg Racette 8-3. Iowa got its lone victory on the day at No. 2 doubles, when Hilary Tyler and Anastasia Zhukova eventually prevailed 9-7 over Notre Dame junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School). First off the court in singles was Christian Thompson, who snapped a three-match losing streak by beating the Russian, Zhukova, 6-1, 6-2 at No. 3. It also ended Zhukova’s eight-match winning streak. Junior Liz Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D./O’Gorman H.S.) lost just two games in putting Notre Dame within a point of victory with a 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Lee at No. 6. Lauren Connelly notched the clinching victory, defeating Tyler 6-2, 6-1 at No. 5 to end a three-match losing streak. Shortly thereafter, Buck, ranked 60th in the nation, completed a 6-2, 6-2 victory over #78 Mintz at No. 2. It snapped an eight-match winning streak for the Hawkeye sophomore. Stastny completed the bottom-of-the-lineup dominance for the Irish by topping Milica Veselinovic of Serbia 6-2, 6-3 at No. 4. It marked a return for the Irish junior to the No. 4 position for the first time since her rookie year. Catrina Thompson completed the shutout by rallying from dropping a first-set tiebreaker to beat Racette 6-7 (6-8), 7-5, 1-0 (10-6) at No. 1.
THE ND-NU REGULAR-SEASON MATCH: Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) became the first collegiate player to post a straight-set victory (6-2, 6-2) over Wildcat freshman phenom Audra Cohen, then ranked #3 in the nation after being #1 earlier this spring, but 26th-ranked Notre Dame dropped a 5-2 decision at #3 Northwestern on April 14 at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center in the final regular-season match for the Irish. Northwestern claimed a hotly-contested doubles point and ended up with straight-set singles victories at Nos. 2, 3, and 4 and a match-tiebreaker triumph at No. 5. Joining Thompson in providing points for the Irish was senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), while junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) combined for a doubles victory. Connelly beat Alexis Conill 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 at No. 6 to make the score 3-2. Trailing 3-2, Notre Dame still had chances to complete a comeback, with the Nos. 2 and 5 singles matches remaining. In the former, Buck was taking on 16th-ranked Cristelle Grier. The native of England won the first set and sprinted to a 5-2 advantage in the second, but the Irish rookie saved multiple team match points and fought all the way to a second-set tiebreaker. She then saved two more match points in the tiebreaker, but Grier eventually came through with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) victory. In the final match, junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) rallied to split sets, but then dropped a match tiebreaker against Andrea Yung at No. 5, losing 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8). Northwestern became just the fifth team to win the doubles point against the Irish, coming out winners at Nos. 1 and 3. The latter contest would prove to be a pivotal one, as the NU pair of Valerie Vladea and Feriel Esseghir eventually registered a 9-7 victory over Stastny and Sarah Jane Connelly. Buck and Connelly won a tiebreaker to upset the 36th-ranked team of Alexis Prousis and Kristi Roemer, 8-7. The No. 1 match featured two of the top five teams in college tennis. The nation’s #1-ranked squad, Grier and Cohen, prevailed 8-4 against fourth-ranked Catrina and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.). The match featured nine consecutive holds of serve at the start, but the Wildcat team broke serve in the 10th game and that was the difference in the contest, as it rode that momentum to victory. First off the court in singles was Valerie Vladea, who topped Lauren Connelly 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4. Prousis, ranked 66th in the nation, then made the score 3-0 by topping Christian Thompson 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3.
ALL-TIME SERIES vs. NCAA REGIONAL TEAMS: Notre Dame played both the Hawkeyes and Wildcats during the regular season, topping Iowa 7-0 at home on Feb. 27 indoors and falling 5-2 to Northwestern on April 14 outdoors in Evanston. In all-time action, the Irish lead the series with Iowa (11-1) and Valparaiso (5-2), while Northwestern is one of only five teams to have played Notre Dame at least 10 times and hold a winning record (19-8). Notre Dame and Iowa will meet for the third time in the NCAA tournament and 13th time overall. The Irish have won the last seven and every regular-season meeting, but the Hawkeyes were victorious 5-4 in the second round of the 1999 NCAA Championship at the Courtney Tennis Center. A year ago, ND prevailed 4-1 in the opening round of the NCAAs at Northwestern. The teams first met in 1985 in Iowa City, with the Irish taking an 8-1 decision. Notre Dame, which will enter the contest ranked ahead of Iowa for the 10th straight time, have won each of the regular-season meetings by at least three points, except for a 4-3 decision in 2003. Should they meet in the second round of the NCAA tournament, it would be the first women’s tennis match between Notre Dame and Valparaiso in more than 20 years, since the fall of the 1982-83 campaign. The Crusaders were regular opponents of the Irish when the ND program was in its infancy. The teams played in each of the first seven years of Irish varsity tennis, with Notre Dame winning five of those meetings. The Valparaiso victories came in 1977 (7.5-1.5 at Valpo) and `78 (5-4 at Notre Dame). The two most-recent matches between the schools were decided by 9-0 scores, with the last coming at Notre Dame on Oct. 14, 1982. The Irish surrendered just 11 total games in 18 sets in that match. If they should meet in the second round, Notre Dame and Northwestern will play for the third time in the NCAA tournament and 28th time overall. The Wildcats, the most-common opponent in the varsity history of the Irish program, lead the series 19-8, based largely on 11 consecutive victories to start the series, from 1976-91. The first Notre Dame win was a 6-3 home victory in 1992. Northwestern also has won each of the last six — three by scores of 4-3 — after the Irish had taken six in a row prior to that (from 1996-2000). The teams met twice previously in the NCAA tournament, a 6-2 Notre Dame victory in ’98 in Champaign, Ill., and a 4-1 NU triumph at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center in the `04 second round. The Wildcats are 12-3 at home against the Irish, including wins in each of the last four matches (4-3 in ’01, 7-0 in ’03, 4-1 in `04, 5-2 in `05).
FOLLOWING THE NCAAs: There will be televised coverage of the NCAA Championships, as ESPN2 will broadcast the team title match on a tape-delayed basis, airing on Thursday, May 26 at 3 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. in South Bend). Live audio coverage of the semifinals and final will be available for free via radiotennis.com, beginning at 11 a.m. EDT (10 a.m. in South Bend) on May 21 and Noon EDT (11 a.m. in South Bend) on May 22. Additionally, the Tennis Channel will show the singles final on Saturday, June 4 at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. in South Bend) and the doubles final that same night at 10 p.m. EDT (9 p.m. in South Bend). The site ncaasports.com will provide live scoring of all matches in the team, singles, and doubles championships.
TOP HEAVY: Notre Dame’s strongest positions in both singles and doubles this season have been the No. 1 spots, largely thanks to sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.). In singles, Thompson – who played No. 3 last season – has compiled a 16-7 record. She also holds a 19-4 mark at No. 1 doubles, playing most of the time with her twin sister, sophomore Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), while also going unbeaten in two matches with junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy). Notre Dame’s second-best spot in singles has been No. 5, where it is 13-8. In doubles, the Irish are 15-7 at No. 3.
Catrina Thompson NOTCHES HISTORIC WIN OVER NORTHWESTERN’S AUDRA COHEN: Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), then ranked 37th nationally in singles, upset the nation’s #3-ranked player, Audra Cohen of Northwestern, 6-2, 6-2 on April 14 in Notre Dame’s dual-match loss to the Wildcats. The freshman phenom, who came into the match with a 39-4 record, had not previously lost a straight-set decision in 43 collegiate matches, and she has not dropped a set in six consecutive wins since then. Cohen began the season with 23 consecutive victories, claiming the singles titles in the first leg of the grand slam, the Riviera/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-American Championships and ascending to the national #1 ranking. It was the highest-ranked victory of Thompson’s career and was the third time this spring that she improved upon her highest-career win. After her top win was previously an upset of #39 Megan Muth of William & Mary in the fall of 2003, Thompson topped #27 Courtney Bergman of Harvard 6-1, 6-4 on Feb. 11 and then beat #26 Aniela Mojzis of North Carolina nine days later. The last time a Notre Dame player defeated one of the nation’s top three players in singles was Jan. 21, 2001, when current assistant coach Michelle Dasso, ranked third at the time, topped #2 Ansley Cargill of Duke 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 singles in dual-match action.
Sarah Jane Connelly WINS PRESTIGIOUS FRANCIS PATRICK O’CONNOR AWARD: Senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and men’s basketball standout Chris Thomas were the recipients of the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award, presented last month at Notre Dame’s O.S.C.A.R.S. (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievements and Recognition Showcase). Since 1993, the University has presented this award in the name of O’Connor, a former student-athlete and Oklahoma City native who died in 1973 following his freshman year at Notre Dame. Pat was the son of William “Bucky” O’Connor who played guard for the Notre Dame football team in the 1940s. The award honors one female and one male senior student-athlete who best display the total embodiment of the true spirit of Notre Dame as exemplified by their contributions and inspirations to their respective teams. To be considered, student-athletes must possess those qualities attributed to Pat O’Connor himself – caring, courage, confidence, encouragement, humility, honesty, humor, kindness and patience. The honor continues the tradition of Irish senior women’s tennis players being honored by the University, as it is the seventh consecutive season that head coach Jay Louderback’s program has produced either a Kanaley winner or an O’Connor winner. Connelly is the sixth women’s tennis player to win the O’Connor, the most of any sport. Previous winners from the team were Christy Faustmann (1994), Holyn Lord (1996), Kelly Zalinski (2000), current assistant coach Michelle Dasso (2001), and Katie Cunha (2003).
Lauren Connelly TABBED TEAM’S TOP ACADEMIC PERFORMER: Junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) was named the team’s recipient of the Knute Rockne Student-Athlete Award, presented by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley. She boasts a 3.699 cumulative grade-point average as a marketing major in the Mendoza College of Business. Connelly is a member of Notre Dame’s Academic Honors Program for Student-Athletes and has twice been named both a BIG EAST Academic All-Star and Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete. She has been named to the Dean’s List on three occasions, includng registering a 3.933 GPA in her first collegiate semester.
Catrina Thompson FIRST SOPHOMORE SINCE 1999 TO PLAY No. 1 FOR ND: Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) has played No. 1 singles for the Irish in every dual match this spring, going 16-7. She is the first sophomore to play at the top of the Notre Dame singles lineup since current assistant coach Michelle Dasso went 23-4 in the slot in the spring of 1999.
CLINCHING CONNELLY: Senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) has to her credit 22 career victories that have clinched the doubles point for Notre Dame, more than any other Irish player since the current doubles-point format was adopted in 2000-01. This season, she has clinched the doubles point six times with junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) at No. 3. Second place on the all-time list is 2004 graduate Alicia Salas, who had 17 clinching wins in doubles. Juniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) – Sarah Jane’s sister – and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) and both tied for third (along with 2003 grad Katie Cunha), with 15.
RANKINGS BUSTERS: Notre Dame players have had considerable success against nationally-ranked players and doubles teams this season, posting a 20-21 combined mark in singles, as well as a 15-5 record in doubles. Leading the way is sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), who is 10-8 in singles against ranked players, as well as 13-3, along with her twin sister, Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), in doubles. Freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) boasts a 7-6 record in singles vs. the nationally-ranked, as well as a 2-2 mark in doubles, pairing with junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.). Junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) is 2-1 in singles against ranked opponents, while Christian Thompson has a victory in four matches.
TRENDS: See below some Irish trends in this dual-match season: – Notre Dame has won the doubles point 18 times in 23 matches this season and has gone on to win the match on 13 occasions after taking a 1-0 lead. – The Irish have a 1-4 record when losing the doubles point. Notre Dame went down 1-0 on April 13 at Illinois, but rallied to win 4-3. That snapped a 15-match losing streak, dating back more than two years, for the Irish in matches in which they dropped the doubles point. – Notre Dame has played eight 4-3 matches this season. The Irish had lost eight consecutive 4-3 matches, dating back to last season, before a five-day stretch earlier this month, when ND beat #16 William & Mary, Indiana, and Illinois by 4-3 scores in consecutive matches. – Nine matches this season have been undecided with only three-set affairs left on the court. Notre Dame holds a 5-4 mark in those matches. – Notre Dame’s winningest position in singles is No. 1, where Catrina Thompson has posted a 16-7 record. – The most consistently successful spot overall for the Irish has been No. 1 doubles, where they have a 19-4 record. Sophomore Catrina Thompson has been involved in all of those matches, going 17-4 with her twin sister, Christian Thompson, as well as 2-0 with junior Kristina Stastny. – No. 3 singles has been the position most indicative of Irish fortunes this season, as Notre Dame is 12-0 when winning there and 1-9 when dropping that match (the No. 3 match was abandoned in ND’s win over St. John’s in the BIG EAST semis). The lone exception came on April 13 at Illinois, when Irish won 4-3 despite losing at No. 3. – ND is 10-1 this season when winning at No. 4, with the lone defeat coming on Jan. 23 in a 6-1 loss to #6 Vanderbilt. The Irish point in that contest came from junior Lauren Connelly beating Annie Menees 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 1-0 (10-6) at No. 4. – ND is 1-7 this season when losing at No. 5 singles, with the lone victory coming on March 22 against Purdue (5-2), even though the Boilermakers won at No. 5.
THOMPSONS ASCEND TO NATIONAL #1 RANKING IN DOUBLES: Sophomore twins Catrina Thompson and Christian Thompson became the first University of Notre Dame women’s tennis duo to be ranked #1 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national doubles rankings, when the Feb. 22 edition was released. Following a rookie season in which they went 22-17 and became the first all-freshman doubles team from any school since 1998 to earn a spot in the NCAA Doubles Championship, the Thompsons were #7 in the preseason ITA rankings, released last fall. They proceeded to put together a fall season in which they went 8-2, became the first Notre Dame team ever to reach the title match of a collegiate grand-slam event, and stand as the only duo in all of college tennis to reach the semifinals of both of the first two grand slams. That moved them up to #2 on Jan. 11 and then to the top spot. Since then, the Thompsons have slipped to sixth. Prior to the 2004-05 season, the highest national ranking for an Irish doubles team was #5, by current assistant coach Michelle Dasso and Becky Varnum on two occasions during the 2000-01 campaign.
RECORD BOOK UPDATE: A number of Irish players have cracked the Notre Dame season and career record books. For a complete summary, see the charts on pages 6 and 7 of this release.
Lauren Connelly A DOUBLES FORCE IN NCAAs: Junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) heads into the weekend boasting a perfect 4-0 record in doubles action in the NCAA tournament. She paired with 2003 graduate Alicia Salas for a pair of upsets at No. 1 in 2003 (vs. Missouri and Vanderbilt), and the duo beat Iowa and Northwestern at No. 2 a year ago. Connelly is the only ND player to have finished more than three NCAA doubles matches and remain undefeated. She is just one shy of the Irish record for doubles victories in the NCAAs, which is held by a pair of `02 grads: Lindsey Green (5-1-2 record) and Becky Varnum (5-1-1).
IRISH REACH PERFECTION vs. MICHIGAN: Notre Dame did not lose a set, winning three in doubles and all 12 in singles, in its 7-0 victory against #20 Michigan on Jan. 26. The victory was notable in a number of ways, as it was the first-ever 7-0 (or 9-0 under the previous scoring format) win against a top-25 opponent for Notre Dame. Previously, the highest-ranked team to get shut out by the Irish in a match where all the contests concluded was #35 Wisconsin, which fell 7-0 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion on March 1, 2002. The win also was the first shutout — of any type — against a top-25 team since a 5-0 victory against #8 Wake Forest at home on Feb. 10, 2001. The Wolverines also have the distinction of being the highest-ranked team ever to not win a set against the Irish, displacing #42 William & Mary, which lost 7-0 to the seventh-ranked Irish on April 1, 2001, at Notre Dame.
THOMPSONS ONLY DOUBLES TEAM TO REACH SEMIS OF FIRST TWO GRAND SLAMS: Sophomore twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) were the only Division I team to reach the semifinals of both of the first two legs of the collegiate grand slam. The Irish team, now ranked sixth after being seventh in the preseason, was the runner-up in October’s Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, defeating #6 Bentley/Stephenson of Alabama, #1 Hollands/Mlakar of Arizona, and #11 Gersic/Kovacek of New Mexico before falling to Whitney Benik and Lolita Frangulyan of Florida in the title match. The sisters then beat #3 Foster/Kalsarieva of Kentucky and #28 Banada/Bradley of Miami before losing to 13th-ranked Alice Barnes and Erin Burdette of Stanford in the semifinals of the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. Benik and Fangulyan were upset in the opening round dof the National Indoors by eventual champs Cristelle Grier and Audra Cohen of Northwestern. The Wildcat team did not play doubles in the All-American Championships. The Thompsons became the first Irish team ever to reach a grand-slam final, as well as the first Notre Dame players to advance to the doubles semis of multiple grand slams.
THOMPSONS UPSET #1, #3, AND #6 IN FALL SEASON: Sophomore twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), now ranked #6 after being seventh in the preseason, put together a fall filled with giant killing, as they were 6-1 against nationally-ranked teams, including four wins against top-15 squads. The sisters upset #1 Dianne Hollands/Maja Mlakar of Arizona, #6 Ashley Bentley/Robin Stephenson, and #11 Eva Gersic/Maja Kovacek of New Mexico en route to the title match of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships before upsetting #3 Sarah Foster/Aibika Kalsarieva of Kentucky in the round of 16 of the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. The upset of Hollands and Mlakar, which came in an 8-6 decision on Oct. 8 in the quarterfinals of the first grand slam, was the first for an Irish team against the nation’s #1 doubles team since current assistant coach Michelle Dasso and Becky Varnum downed Pepperdine’s Ipek Senoglu and Paola Palencia 8-5 at No. 1 doubles on Feb. 17, 2001, in the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
REGIONAL RANKINGS: Notre Dame was well represented in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Midwest Region rankings, released on Nov. 30. The Irish joined #6 Northwestern as the only teams to have four players in the top 25 in singles, as well as the only schools with two in the top eight in doubles. Leading the way for Notre Dame were sophomore twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), who were #2 in doubles after a fall that saw them knock off six ranked teams (including three top-10 squads) and be the only duo in the country to reach the semifinals of both of the first two legs of the collegiate grand slam. Catrina Thompson also is sixth in singles after going 6-1 (two ranked wins) in the first semester with her lone defeat coming against #42 Katie McGaffigan of Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the ITA Midwest Championships. Freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) was 11th in singles after going 10-3 in her first collegiate semester, including upsets of #37 Dora Vastag of Indiana and #93 Hala Sufi of Purdue. She is eighth in doubles with junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), as that pair was 11-3 in the fall. Christian Thompson checked in at 21st despite going just 3-2 in the opening semester, while Connelly’s 10-2 mark earned her a listing of 23rd in singles.
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 12 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 201 of 203 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 this season, when ND fell three spots to 31st before moving back to up 26th the following week.
CAPTAIN CONNELLY: Notre Dame’s lone senior, Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), is the captain of the Irish for the 2004-05 season, returning the program to its long-standing tradition (16 consecutive years from 1987-88 to 2002-03) of being led by one captain. Last season, both Alicia Salas and Caylan Leslie served as the squad’s co-captains.
WE ARE FAMILY: Notre Dame women’s tennis has long featured members of the same family on its teams. For the third consecutive season, Notre Dame has an unprecedented two pairs of sisters on its roster in 2003-04. In 2002-03, Liz Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D./O’Gorman H.S.) and Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) joined the Notre Dame squad as freshmen, combining with sisters Maggie Donohue (`03) and Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) to mark the first time in school history that a team featured two sets of sisters at the same time. Though Maggie Donohue graduated in ’03, the Connellys were joined last season by freshman twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) — the fourth pair of twin sisters ever to earn monograms in the same sport at Notre Dame — to give Notre Dame two sets of sisters once again. A total of seven sets of sisters have earned monograms in women’s tennis, by far the most of any of the 13 Irish women’s sports. Another family connection was added this season, as head coach Jay Louderback’s daughter, Bailey Louderback (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.), joined the team as a freshman. 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.
IRISH SIGN TWO TOP-30 PLAYERS FOR NEXT YEAR: Irish women’s tennis head coach Jay Louderback announced last fall that Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) and Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) have signed national letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame and join his team in the fall of 2005. Both are among the top 30 high school seniors in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) 18-and-under national rankings. Potts, a 5-10 senior at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee, won her second consecutive Wisconsin state singles title this fall, while also helping DSHA to the team state championship in ’04. The state singles runner-up in both 2001 and ’02, she has been ranked as high as 56th in the nation in the USTA’s 18-and-under rankings. At 60th, she was 26th among current high school seniors. Tefft, a 5-6 senior at Chisholm High School in northern Oklahoma, has to her credit seven Super National USTA doubles titles, including five partnering with current Irish freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School). Tefft has been as high as eighth in the USTA 18s singles rankings, and she also has one third-place finish in Super National singles competition. The Enid native, ranked 18th, was the sixth-highest ranked high school senior in the country.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.