Feb. 19, 2004
The 26th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (5-1) will play host to #20 Brigham Young (7-2) on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish have won five in a row after dropping their opener, while the Cougars are on a four-match winning streak. The starting time for the match was changed from the originally published schedule.
LAST TIME ON THE COURTS: Notre Dame went 3-0 on a road trip to the state of Virginia last weekend, claiming wins over #14 Virginia Commonwealth (4-3), Boston College (6-1), and #67 Virginia Tech (5-2).
Notre Dame became the first squad in nearly five years to defeat VCU on its home courts. The win snapped the Rams’ 40-match home winning streak and 38-match regular-season winning streak. Notre Dame jumped out to a 3-0 advantage before the Rams struck back with a pair of singles wins. Irish freshman Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) then clinched the victory with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 triumph at No. 3 against Cristina Gago of Spain. VCU had not lost at home since a 5-2 defeat against Virginia Tech on March 28, 1999. It had been two years to the day since the Rams, who were 24-1 a year ago after a 20-0 regular season, lost a regular-season contest. On Feb. 13, 2002, William & Mary pulled out a 4-3 decision vs. VCU.
The Irish opened conference play by beating Boston College on Saturday in Blacksburg, Va. The Irish swept the doubles portion and won five of six singles matches, four in straight sets. Sophomore Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) remained unbeaten this spring in both singles and doubles as she delivered the clinching win for the Irish at No. 4 singles, with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over BC’s Morgan Landes.
The following day, Notre Dame dealt Virginia Tech its first loss of the season for the second consecutive year. The Irish swept the doubles portion and posted four striaght-set wins in singles. Sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) did not drop a game all day, winning 8-0 at No. 3 doubles and 6-0, 6-0 at No. 6 singles.
IRISH vs. COUGARS: Brigham Young, ranked 20th in the nation after a No. 45 preseason listing, comes to Notre Dame with a 7-2 record and a four-match winning streak. The Cougars’ lone losses came at #7 Washington (5-2) and against #3 California (7-0) in the National Indoor Championships. BYU then posted wins against #5 USC (6-1) and #14 William & Mary (4-3) in consolation action in the National Indoors. The Cougars also have wins over Utah State, Boise State, Washington State, Kansas, and Denver. BYU’s No. 1 player, Barbora Zahnova, who transferred from Virginia Commonwealth prior to the season, is ranked 43rd nationally in singles. Last season, the Cougars were 13-11 (7-3) and finished fourth in the Mountain West Conference, but runners-up in the league tournament. BYU returns six letterwinners, including four starters from that squad. Head coach Craig Manning has a 68-56 (.548) record in four-plus seasons leading the Cougars.
The Irish and Cougars will meet for the sixth consecutive season and 11th time overall, with every meeting coming since 1991. Notre Dame has won five straight and holds a 7-3 all-time mark against BYU. The last Brigham Young victory was a 6-3 decision in 1997. This year marks the fifth time, but first since 1996, that both teams are ranked among the national top 30 at the time of the match. This is BYU’s third trip to Notre Dame, having lost in visits in 1999 (9-0)) and 2002 (5-2).
On March 8, 2003, #15 Notre Dame pulled out a 4-3 decision at #49 BYU. The match came down to the No. 5 singles match with the score tied 3-3. Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) prevailed 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 over Hadley MacFarlane to deliver the win for the Irish. BYU won the top and bottom doubles matches to take a 1-0 lead, but then only managed wins at Nos. 3 and 4 (in three sets) in singles. Notre Dame also won in three sets at No. 2.