March 27, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 23rd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team snapped a two-match losing streak with a narrow 4-3 victory over Illinois Wednesday afternoon at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Senior Lindsey Green (El Cajon, Calif.) and sophomore Alicia Salas (Engelwood, Colo.) were double winners for the Irish, who improve to 11-7 this season and 8-3 at home. The Fighting Illini dropped their seventh consecutive match, falling to 7-11 this spring.
Salas and freshman Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla.) got Notre Dame started with an impressive 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles. The tandem is now 10-1 this season and has won its last six matches. Moments later, the 30th-ranked doubles team of Green and senior Becky Varnum (Colorado Springs, Colo.) locked up the doubles point for the Irish with an 8-3 victory at the No. 1 flight. The win was the 99th doubles triumph of Green’s career, putting her in position to become the fourth Notre Dame player to record 100 career doubles conquests.
Green then turned right around and added her second victory of the afternoon with a 6-0, 6-1 rout of Eva Choe at No. 3 singles. It was the sixth win in seven singles matches for Green, with all but one triumph coming in straight sets. However, the 2-0 Irish lead wouldn’t last long as Illinois’ Jennifer McGaffigan, ranked 54th in the nation, downed the 75th-ranked Varnum, 6-3, 6-1, at No. 1 singles. The Fighting Illini pulled even soon after when #139 Tiffany Eklov toppled senior Nina Vaughan (Corona del Mar, Calif.), ranked No. 110 in the country, at No. 2 singles by 6-4, 7-5 count.
With the match hanging in the balance, Salas came up with a critical victory for the Irish at No. 4 singles, holding off a stiff second-set challenge from Kate Boomershine to win 6-4, 7-6 (8-6). Thanks to her victory, Salas improved to 16-2 in singles play this spring. She also has won 19 of her last 21 matches, vaulting to 23-5 on the year and 14-1 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Junior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash.) put the finishing touches on the victory for Notre Dame, breaking a personal two-match losing streak with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Illinois’ Cynthya Goulet at No. 5 singles. Cunha trailed 2-4 in the second set before rallying for the victory, her sixth in the last eight matches.
Notre Dame returns to action this weekend with three consecutive road matches against top-10 opponents. The Irish will begin their trip Saturday at 11 a.m. (EST) against third-ranked Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C. That will be followed Monday at 4 p.m. (EDT) with a battle against No. 4 Duke in Durham, N.C. Notre Dame will wrap up its sojourn Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) against seventh-ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
#23 Notre Dame 4, Illinois 3
No. 1: #54 Jennifer McGaffigan (I) d. #75 Becky Varnum (ND) 6-3, 6-1
No. 2: #139 Tiffany Eklov (I) d. #118 Nina Vaughan (ND) 6-4, 7-5
No. 3: Lindsey Green (ND) d. Eva Choe (I) 6-0, 6-1
No. 4: Alicia Salas (ND) d. Kate Boomershine (I) 6-3, 7-6 (8-6)
No. 5: Katie Cunha (ND) d. Cynthya Goulet (I) 6-4, 6-4
No. 6: Eldina Fazlic (I) d. Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
No. 1: #30 Green/Varnum (ND) d. Goulet/Boomershine (I) 8-3
No. 2: McGaffigan/Choe (I) d. Cunha/Vaughan (ND) 8-6
No. 3: Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Michelle Webb/Fazlic (I) 8-3
Team Records: #23 Notre Dame 11-7, Illinois 7-11
— ND —