April 22, 2005
TAMPA, Fla. – The top-seeded and 25th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (13-9) shut out fourth-seeded St. John’s (8-4) 4-0 in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Conference Championship Friday morning at the University of South Florida. The Irish won the doubles point and then claimed straight-set victories in each of the three quickest singles matches to earn a spot in the title match – Saturday at 11 a.m. (EDT) vs. third-seeded Syracuse – for the 10th consecutive season.
Notre Dame won at Nos. 1 and 3 in doubles and then prevailed at Nos. 1, 2, and 4 in singles. Irish players also were just a game from victory at Nos. 3 and 5. Junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) and sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) both were double winners, while freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) provided the match-clinching victory. In addition, senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and sophomore Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) – who sat out the singles portion with a nagging knee injury – prevailed in doubles.
The doubles point came down to the No. 1 match, where the Thompson twins, the #5-ranked team in the nation, prevailed 8-4 over seniors Allison Davidson and Hande Gorur. The Irish sisters are now 2-0 this season as the final match on court with the doubles point still undecided, and the victory snapped their first two-match losing streak of their sophomore campaign. The Thompsons are 24-6 overall, including 16-4 in dual action at No. 1. They are 7-1 in their careers against BIG EAST opponents and have six clinching victories this season.
First off in doubles were Stastny and Sarah Jane Connelly, who beat a pair of Slovakians, Barbora Blahutiakova and Kristina Bothova, 8-3 at No. 3. The Notre Dame team improved to 24-9 this season, including 14-6 in dual action at No. 3. They have won four in a row against conference teams and six of their last eight overall. Stastny and Catrina Thompson both notched their team-leading 26th victories of the season in doubles play.
At No. 2, the Red Storm pair of Lauren Leo and Mariana Chachua registered an 8-4 upset of Buck and junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), who entered the national rankings this week at 59th.
Stastny was done first in singles, defeating Gorur, a native of Turkey, 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4. She is 22-12 this season, including 13-9 in dual play.
Catrina Thompson, ranked 37th, then downed Blahutiakova 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 to put Notre Dame within one point of victory. She remained undefeated in 11 matches against unranked players and improved to 21-8 overall and 15-7 at No. 1. Thompson, a frontrunner for BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player, is 15-4 in road matches this season and has won 22 consecutive matches (19-0 in 2004-05) when taking the opening set.
Buck had trouble putting away Bothova at No. 2, but she eventually prevailed 6-3, 6-4 after the Slovakian fought off four team match points. The Irish rookie leads the team in singles victories, improving to 23-12 this season, including 13-9 in dual action at No. 2. Buck has won 20 consecutive matches when taking the opening set.
Lauren Connelly was near to a victory of her own, leading 6-4, 5-2 against Lauren Leo at No. 3 when Buck clinched Notre Dame’s victory. Her sister, Sarah Jane, also was just a game away from winning, as she was up 6-3, 6-5 in her contest with senior Allison Davidson at No. 5.
At No. 6, Mariana Chachura of St. John’s led 6-2, 4-3 in her match with junior Liz Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D./O’Gorman H.S.) at No. 6.
The Irish improved to 24-0 all-time against current BIG EAST schools, including 2-0 vs. St. John’s.
Notre Dame and Syracuse will meet for the fourth time, with the Irish having registered victories in 1997 in Lawrence, Kan., (8-1), ’98 at Notre Dame (8-1), and ’99 in the BIG EAST semifinals in Coral Gables, Fla.
Notre Dame will look for its sixth BIG EAST championship on Saturday, having previously claimed them in 1996, ’97, ’99, 2001, and ’03.
[No. 1 seed] #25 Notre Dame 4, [No. 4 seed] St. John's 0SinglesNo. 1: #37 Catrina Thompson (ND) def. Barbora Blahutiakova (SJU) 6-2, 6-0No. 2: #102 Brook Buck (ND) def. Kristina Bothova (SJU) 6-3, 6-4No. 3: Lauren Connelly (ND) led Lauren Leo (SJU) 6-4, 5-2, abandonedNo. 4: Kristina Stastny (ND) def. Hande Gorur (SJU) 6-0, 6-0No. 5: Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) led Allison Davidson (SJU) 6-3, 6-5, abandonedNo. 6: Mariana Chachua (SJU) led Liz Donohue (ND) 6-2, 4-3, abandonedOrder of Finish: 4, 1, 2*DoublesNo. 1: #5 Thompson/Thompson (ND) def. Davidson/Gorur (SJU) 8-4No. 2: Chachua/Leo (SJU) def. #59 Buck/L. Connelly (ND) 8-4No. 3: S.J. Connelly/Stastny (ND) def. Blahutiakova/Bothova (SJU) 8-3Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1*