Junior Christian Thompson rallied from dropping the opening set to clinch the victory.

#23 Irish Open NCAA Tournament With 4-1 Win Over Iowa

May 13, 2005

EVANSTON, Ill. – The 23rd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (15-9) prevailed 4-1 against #46 Iowa (14-10) in the opening round of the 2005 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship Friday morning at Northwestern University. The Irish will face either the fifth-seeded and sixth-ranked host or Valparaiso – who play Friday afternoon in another first-round match – in Saturday’s second round at Noon (CDT), in seeking to reach the round of 16 for the first time since 2001.

The Irish won the doubles point and then were victorious in three of the four singles matches that were completed. Notre Dame sophomore twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) were both winners in singles and doubles, while senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) also provided a singles victory. Junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) prevailed in doubles to be just the second ND team ever to win 27+ matches in a season.

The match began at Northwestern’s outdoor Vandy Christie Tennis Center, but was moved indoors due to rain showers with Notre Dame leading 3-1 and three singles contests still on the court.

Catrina Thompson finished first in singles, defeating 104th-ranked Meg Racette 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1. It was the third victory for the Irish sophomore, ranked 44th, against Racette this season, following one in last fall’s ITA Midwest Championships and another in regular-season dual action. Thompson moved to 23-8 this season, including 17-7 in dual play at No. 1. She has won four straight and nine of her last 10 matches. Thompson improved to 11-8 against ranked players this season and 17-4 away from home. She also is 11-2 vs. regional opponents and is 4-0 in her career against Hawkeyes competitors.

Sarah Jane Connelly made the score 3-0 by defeating Hilary Tyler 6-2, 6-2 at No. 6. She has won four in a row and is 16-8 on the season. A year ago in the NCAAs, the two players were in a third set when the match was abandoned. Connelly concluded her career with a 7-0 combined (singles and doubles) record against Iowa.

Iowa got on the board when Milica Veselinovic notched a 6-2, 6-1 win against Lauren Connelly at No. 4. The Serbian has won six in a row and is 15-1 since losing to Notre Dame’s Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) on Feb. 27.

After the move indoors, Christian Thompson notched her first clinching victory of the season, winning four of five games in the Combe Tennis Center to finish a 7-5, 6-3 win against Anastasia Zhukova of Russia at No. 3. Thompson is 13-9 on the season.

Notre Dame won the doubles point for the 19th time in 24 matches this season, getting wins at the top two positions. First off the court were the Thompson twins, ranked sixth in the nation. It took them just 36 minutes to complete an 8-1 victory against Racette and Veselinovic at No. 1. The Irish sisters broke serve in all four of their return games and improved to 26-6 on the season, 18-4 in dual matches. They earned their first victory in three career matches in the NCAA team tournament and their 30th at No. 1 doubles. Catrina Thompson notched her team-leading 28th doubles victory of the season (in 34 completed contests) and moved to 20-4 in dual action. It is the seventh time in program history that an Irish player has registered 20+ doubles dual-match triumphs in a season.

Buck and Lauren Connelly clinched the doubles point for the sixth time this season, avenging a regular-season loss against Tyler and Zhukova. The Notre Dame team prevailed 8-4 at No. 2 after losing 9-7 at home in February. Buck and Connelly moved to 27-11 on the season (16-8 dual). Only one Irish doubles team has ever won more matches in a single campaign: Becky Varnum and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso in 2000-01 (35-9 record). Connelly improved to 5-0 in her career in doubles action in the NCAAs. Tyler and Zhukova had been 15-2 as a team.

The Irish appeared to be on the verge of a sweep, as Sarah Jane Connelly and Stastny were leading 7-5 against Lee and Mintz at No. 3 when the match was abandoned.

Buck appeared to be headed for a three-set victory at No. 2 when her singles match was abandoned. She led Mintz 6-2, 3-6, 4-2 when Thompson finished the match. The other abandoned contest also appeared destined for a third set. Jacqueline Lee of Iowa prevailed in a long opening set that culminated in a tiebreaker (7-5), but Stastny was leading 5-2 in the second set when the match was abandoned.

Notre Dame improved to 11-1 in opening matches in the NCAA tournament. The Irish have fallen in the second round in each of the last two seasons, but will look to advance to the final 16 for the first time since 2001 and the sixth time overall.

The winner of Saturday’s second-round match will play in the round of 16 on Thursday, May 19 at Noon (EDT) at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. The opponent will be the winner of the Clemson subregional, which includes Furman, William & Mary, Wisconsin, and the 12th-seeded host.

Notre Dame is 12-1 all-time against Iowa and has eliminated the Hawkeyes from the NCAAs in each of the last two seasons. The Irish won 7-0 at home against Iowa during the regular season.

Since the start of April, Notre Dame has won seven of eight matches, with the exception being a 5-2 loss at Northwestern on April 14.

[17-32] #23 Notre Dame 4, [33-48] #46 Iowa 1SinglesNo. 1:  #44 Catrina Thompson (ND) def. #104 Meg Racette (I) 6-1, 6-2No. 2:  #87 Brook Buck (ND) led Hillary Mintz (I) 6-2, 3-6, 4-2, abandonedNo. 3:  Christian Thompson (ND) def. Anastasia Zhukova (I) 7-5, 6-3No. 4:  Milica Veselinovic (I) def. Lauren Connelly (ND) 6-2, 6-1No. 5:  Jacqueline Lee (I) led Kristina Stastny (ND) 7-6 (7-5), 2-5, abandonedNo. 6:  Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) def. Hilary Tyler (I) 6-2, 6-2Order of Finish: 1, 6, 4, 3*DoublesNo. 1:  #6 Thompson/Thompson (ND) def. Racette/Veselinovic (I) 8-1No. 2:  Buck/L. Connelly (ND) def. Tyler/Zhukova (I) 8-4No. 3:  S.J. Connelly/Stastny (ND) led Lee/Mintz (I) 7-5, abandonedOrder of Finish: 1, 2*