March 22, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) both rallied from one-set deficits for victories to lead the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (7-7) to a 5-2 triumph over #61 Purdue (2-8) Tuesday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish, again playing without the injured Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) – who plays No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles – swept the doubles and won each of the top four singles matches to even their season record and improve to 4-0 this spring against Big Ten Conference opponents.
Notre Dame held a 3-1 lead with only three-setters left on the court. Purdue senior Amy Walgenbach then completed a come-from-behind 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over Irish junior Liz Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D./O’Gorman H.S.) at No. 6 to keep the Boilermakers’ hopes alive.
Catrina Thompson, ranked 44th in the nation in singles, then clinched Notre Dame’s victory when she won the final three games of her match for a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over 74th-ranked Hala Sufi at No. 1. She improved to 15-6 overall this season, including 9-5 in dual-match action at No. 1. Thompson also notched the 35th singles victory of her career (21 losses, .625). She rallied from a one-set deficit for victory for the second time this season and fourth time as a collegian. Thompson also won a three-setter with the dual-match outcome undecided for the first time in three career opportunities. It was her second clinching victory of the season, and it improved her record against Midwest Region opposition to 7-1 (17-6 in her career). Thompson also is 11-3 against lower-ranked players, as well as 11-4 indoors this season. She also boasts a 4-0 career record against Purdue players in combined singles and doubles action.
Connelly, who faced a pair of match points serving at 4-5 in the second, also gutted out a victory, eventually prevailing 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 over senior Shawna Zuccarini at No. 3. It was the first career appearance for the Notre Dame junior at the No. 3 position, and she improved to 18-8 overall this season. Connelly also registered her 55th career singles victory (39 losses, .585). It was the third time this season and the fifth time in her career that she rallied from losing the first set to win. Connelly also has now won two three-set matches in a row with the team outcome on the line (clinched Notre Dame’s 5-2 road win against #30 UNLV on March 10) after struggling previously in those situations. She evened her season record in three-set affairs at 3-3 and is now 9-3 in 2004-05 at home. Connelly is 14-6 in indoor action this season and has had a knack for winning close matches, as she has been victorious in nine of 12 contests that have either seen both players win a set or have been a two-setters with a difference of four games or fewer between the competitors. She also is 9-2 against the Midwest Region this season and 4-1 in her career in singles against the Boilers.
It was the third consecutive match the Irish were without Christian Thompson in singles. She has been hampered by a nagging knee injury all spring and played only doubles against BYU on March 12 before sitting out completely at Tennessee on Friday and on Tuesday.
Notre Dame swept the doubles matches for the sixth time this season and won the match’s initial point after dropping it twice in a row. The Irish had won the doubles point in 10 of the first 11 contests of the spring, but then started out down 1-0 against both #24 BYU and #23 Tennessee in road matches.
Finishing first was the team of senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and junior Jennifer Smith (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg H.S.), who lost just a pair of games in an 8-2 triumph at No. 3 over Sufi and Alyssa Rodriguez. It was the first victory for the Irish pair since Feb. 16, 2003, against Boston College, as they had been on a three-match skid spanning more than two years. It was the first win for Smith – who missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery – in doubles dual-match action since she and Caylan Leslie were victorious at No. 3 against Miami in helping the Irish to a 4-3 victory in the title match of the 2003 BIG EAST Championship. Connelly improved to 6-2 in her career in doubles against Purdue.
Lauren Connelly and freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) clinched the doubles point by beating Brooke Beier and Stephanie Wooten 8-5 at No. 2. The Irish duo improved to 20-8 on the season and 9-5 in dual action at No. 3. Connelly and Buck, who saw one of their three fall losses come against Beier and Lara Burgarello in the Indiana Invitational, are 10-3 against regional foes and have five clinching victories to their credit.
Completing the sweep were Catrina Thompson and junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), who beat Burgarello and Zuccarini 8-6 at No. 1. The pair is now unbeaten in two matches together, while Thompson has won five in a row and leads the Irish with 21 doubles victories (in 24 matches).
First off the court in singles was Buck, ranked 100th in Division I, who beat Wooten 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2. She is 20-7 on the season, including 10-4 in dual action at No. 2. Buck stands 9-3 at home and 9-3 against lower-ranked foes this season. She holds an 18-1 record when taking the opening set and is 16-5 indoors and 10-2 against the Midwest Region.
The freshman, Beier, got Purdue on the board with a 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 5 over Smith, who made her singles return to dual-match action for the first time since the 2003 NCAA tournament. It was her first career time playing No. 5.
Stastny put the Irish within a point of victory by beating Rodriguez 6-2, 6-3 at No. 4. She is now 17-9 on the season, and the win allowed her to avoid the first four-match losing streak of her career. Stastny is 9-2 against regional players and 15-1 when taking the first set.
Notre Dame beat Purdue for the 11th consecutive time at home, a streak dating back to 1986. The Irish have 18 all-time wins against the Boilers, more than vs. any other school. Notre Dame has won 13 of its last 15 vs. its intrastate rival, but had lost two of the last three before Tuesday.
The Irish are perfect in four contests against the Big Ten this season, having beaten Ohio State (6-1), Michigan (7-0), Iowa (7-0), and Purdue. Up next will be #45 Wisconsin on March 29 in Madison.
Notre Dame will return to action on Saturday when it travels to Oklahoma State for a 1 p.m. (CST) contest. It will be a homecoming of sorts for three Irish players that hail from Oklahoma: the Connellys and Buck.
#29 Notre Dame 5, #61 Purdue 2
No. 1: #44 Catrina Thompson (ND) def. #74 Hala Sufi (P) 2-6, 6-3, 7-5
No. 2: #100 Brook Buck (ND) def. Stephanie Wooten (P) 6-3, 6-2
No. 3: Lauren Connelly (ND) def. Shawna Zuccarini (P) 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
No. 4: Kristina Stastny (ND) def. Alyssa Rodriguez (P) 6-2, 6-3
No. 5: Brooke Beier (P) def. Jennifer Smith (ND) 6-3, 6-0
No. 6: Amy Walgenbach (P) def. Liz Donohue (ND) 3-6, 6-4, 6-0
Order of Finish: 2, 5, 4, 6, 1*, 3
No. 1: Stastny/Ca. Thompson (ND) def. Lara Burgarello/Zuccarini (P) 8-6
No. 2: Buck/L. Connelly (ND) def. Beier/Wooten (P) 8-5
No. 3: Sarah Jane Connelly/Smith (ND) def. Rodriguez/Sufi (P) 8-2
Order of Finish: 3, 2*, 1