Feb. 13, 2004
RICHMOND, Va. – The 26th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (3-1) became the first squad in nearly five years to defeat #14 Virginia Commonwealth (6-1) on its home courts, registering a 4-3 triumph Friday afternoon in the Thalhimer Tennis Center. The win snapped the Rams’ 40-match home winning streak and 38-match regular-season winning streak. Notre Dame has now delivered at least one upset of a top-15 opponent in each of the last 11 seasons.
“This was a good win for us,” said Irish head coach Jay Louderback. “It is always difficult to play on the road, and this was the first time we had ever been to VCU. This was a good match to have to gut out; there were a lot of tight matches. We competed well, especially on the road, and it was encouraging how well we played in doubles.”
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. It was the third consecutive clinching win for Thompson, who is 11-6 this season and has won five of her last six contests.
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.
Virginia Commonwealth, which has only five players on its roster — with none hailing from the United States — lost by default at No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles. The teams split the other two doubles contests, while the Rams took three of five in singles.
Senior co-captain Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) and sophomore Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), ranked 39th nationally, handed the Irish a 1-0 lead with an 8-1 victory over Gago and another Spaniard, Cristina Arribas, at No. 2 doubles. Salas and Connelly are 10-2 this season, including a 4-0 mark in dual-match play and victories in eight of their last nine matches.
After the Irish had secured the match’s initial point, Olga Borisova of Belarus and Silvia Urickova of Slovakia salvaged an 8-6 win at No. 1 against twins Catrina and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.). Urickova reached the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship last season, ending with a No. 12 national ranking.
Lauren Connelly continued her perfect spring with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over freshman Camille Ripert of France at No. 4. It was the fourth time Connelly surrendered three games or fewer in a match this season and the first “double bagel” of her collegiate career. She is unbeaten this spring is both singles and doubles.
VCU got on the board when Borisova completed a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 upset of 14th-ranked Salas at No. 1. It was the first loss in singles or doubles play for the Irish senior this spring.
Arribas made the score 3-2 by beating junior Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) 6-4, 6-2 at No. 5.
After the outcome was determined, Urickova, who was 99th in the preseason singles rankings but is now unranked, beat 88th-ranked Christian Thompson 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 at No. 2.
Irish sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) did not have the opportunity to compete on Friday due to VCU’s shorthandedness. She was slated to play No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles, along with Sarah Jane Connelly.
VCU had a pair of key players from last year’s team transfer prior to the start of this season. Senior Barbora Zahnova is BYU’s top player this season, ranked 43rd in the nation in singles, while sophomore Beatriz Cabrera is playing No. 1 singles for Illinois-Chicago.
The match was the first-ever meeting between the schools, making VCU the 154th team to take on Notre Dame in women’s tennis during the 28-year varsity history of the program.
Both of Notre Dame’s road matches this spring have been 4-3 decisions, as the Irish lost at Michigan to begin dual-match play.
The Irish will continue a busy weekend in the state of Virginia with a pair of BIG EAST Conference matches in Blacksburg. Notre Dame will play Boston College at 1 p.m. (EST) on Friday and #67 Virginia Tech at 10 a.m. on Sunday, with both contests taking place in the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center. The Eagles and Hokies tied for third place at the 2003 BIG EAST tournament when their match was suspended at 3-3.
Because the conference does not require round robin play, Notre Dame does not play a traditional BIG EAST schedule. The Irish have only three contests against league teams during the regular season, and they will not see another conference squad until Miami visits Notre Dame on April 4.
#26 Notre Dame 4, #14 Virginia Commonwealth 3
No. 1: Olga Borisova (VCU) d. #14 Alicia Salas (ND) 7-6 (7-3), 6-2
No. 2: Silvia Urickova (VCU) d. #88 Christian Thompson (ND) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
No. 3: *Catrina Thompson (ND) d. Cristina Gago (VCU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-0
No. 4: Lauren Connelly (ND) d. Camille Ripert (VCU) 6-0, 6-0
No. 5: Cristina Arribas (VCU) d. Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) 6-4, 6-2
No. 6: Kristina Stastny (ND) won by default
Order of Finish: 6, 4, 1, 5, 3*, 2
No. 1: Borisova/Urickova (VCU) d. Thompson/Thompson (ND) 8-6
No. 2: *#39 L. Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Arribas/Gago (ND) 8-1
No. 3: S.J. Connelly/Stastny (ND) won by default
Order of Finish: 3, 2*, 1
* denotes clinching match