March 3, 2006
#5 Notre Dame (10-0) vs. #49 Illinois (4-5)Sunday, March 5, 11 a.m. (EST) â€¢ Eck Tennis Center â€¢ Notre Dame, IN- Live Scoring Updates: und.com
#5 IRISH TO HOST ILLINOIS ON SUNDAY MORNING: The University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team – which rose to #5 in the national rankings this week to match its all-time high listing – will continue a seven-match homestand on Sunday by playing host to #49 Illinois (4-5) at 11 a.m. (EST) in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish – off to a 10-0 start for the first time since 1984-85 – boast an 11-match winning streak that dates back more than a year. Notre Dame will try to continue its strong play against the Big Ten Conference, having already registered decisive victories against Ohio State (7-0), Michigan (6-1), Wisconsin (6-1), and Indiana (7-0).
SCOUTING ILLINOIS: The Fighting Illini enter their match with the Irish with a 4-5 record (0-1 Big Ten) and ranked 49th in the nation … Illinois – which was ranked 53rd in the preseason – stared 4-1 but has since lost four straight, including its conference opener against Purdue (6-1) … since then, U of I has had 10 days off … all five Illini defeats have come against teams currently ranked among the top 35: #18 William & Mary (7-0), #20 Wake Forest (7-0), #29 Tennessee (6-1), #30 Purdue, and #32 Mississippi (4-3) … Illinois’ top win was a 5-2 decision against #50 Western Michigan, and the Illini also have victories against Marquette (6-1), Illinois State (6-1), and Illinois-Chicago (7-0) … the teams have faced two common opponents, as the Irish beat both the Demon Deacons (4-3) and Lady Vols (7-0) … Illinois returned seven of nine starters from last year’s squad that was 12-11 and ranked 53rd in the nation (after peaking at 33rd) … the Fighting Illini were tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a 6-4 record and then fell 4-2 to Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the league tournament, which left them just out of the NCAA tournament … Illinois has no players currently in the ITA national rankings … there were 13 ND-Illinois matchups in the fall, with the Irish winning 10 of them (6-2 singles, 4-1 doubles) … Notre Dame played in Illinois’ Midwest Blast in November … head coach Sujay Lama is in his eighth year as head coach of the Fighting Illini, having compiled a 103-74 (.582) record, including 1-6 against Notre Dame … next up for Illinois is another BIG EAST test, as the Illini will play host to Louisville on Friday, March 10.
IRISH-ILLINI SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and Illinois will meet for the eighth consecutive season and 27th time overall, with the Irish holding a 17-9 edge in the series (see page 44 of the ND media guide for scores of every match), including victories in 12 of the last 13 matches … the lone exception during that span came in 2004, when the 17th-ranked Illini won 5-2 against #19 Notre Dame in the Eck Tennis Pavilion … only Northwestern (28 matches) has played Notre Dame more times in the 30 years of varsity Irish women’s tennis … an 18th win by Notre Dame would tie Illinois with Purdue as the schools having been defeated the most by the Irish … only four schools (Northwestern-20, Duke-12, Tennessee-12, Indiana-10) have more all-time victories over ND than does Illinois … the Irish are 13-3 against the Illini during the 17-year tenure of head coach Jay Louderback, and a win on Sunday would tied U of I with Michigan and Wisconsin as the teams defeated most by Notre Dame during that time … Notre Dame won 11 in a row from 1993-2003 – which is tied for the second-longest winning streak against a single opponent in Irish history … the Irish hold a 10-2 all-time mark at home against Illinois, but the Illini snapped a streak of eight straight losses in their last visit … the schools first played in the fall of 1980, with the Irish earning a 5-4 win at home … Illinois’ earned its first victory in the series in the spring of 1982 in a 7-2 decision at home … the Illini held an 8-5 edge in the series until the current Irish streak of dominance, which began in 1993 … Notre Dame prevailed in the only postseason affair, winning 5-3 at home in the quarterfinals of the 1997 NCAA Region IV Championship … a year ago, current Irish senior captain Lauren Connelly won 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 over Brianna Knue at No. 4 in the final match remaining to give 26th-ranked Notre Dame a 4-3 win over #54 Illinois in Urbana on April 13, 2005 … Knue and Macall Harkins won 8-6 over Connelly and Brook Buck at No. 2 in the final match remaining to win the doubles point … Cynthya Goulet and Eva Wang upset the fourth-ranked team of Catrina Thompson and Christian Thompson by an 8-6 score at No. 1 to set up the point … five of the singles matches were decided in straight sets, with Notre Dame winning at Nos. 2, 5, and 6, and the Illini prevailing at Nos. 1 and 3 … this will be the second year in a row – and 14th time in the last 16 meetings – that the Irish carry a higher national ranking (ND is 11-2 with 11 straight wins) … this is the highest-ranked Notre Dame team ever faced by the Illini … it will be the 10th time in the last 12 matches that both squads are nationally-ranked … Notre Dame holds a 6-5 edge, including three consecutive wins, in matches decided by one point (5-4 or 4-3).
ND MOVES TO #5 IN FILA COLLEGIATE TENNIS RANKINGS, MATCHING ALL-TIME HIGH: After beating #20 Brigham Young (5-2) and Wisconsin (6-1) last weekend, the Irish slid up two spots to fifth in the latest set of Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings administered by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), which were released on Tuesday. It matches the highest listing for the Irish since becoming a Division I program (in 1985-86), after ND also was fifth on Feb. 28, 2001. This is the fourth different season in which ND has been listed in the national top 10 (also 1995-96, `96-97, and 2000-01). In all, 18 of Notre Dame’s 23 regular-season opponents are listed among the 75 teams in this week’s rankings, with 12 in the top 30: #6 North Carolina, #7 Duke, #9 Northwestern, #11 Texas, #14 Harvard, #15 Vanderbilt, #19 Brigham Young, #20 Wake Forest, #26 Michigan, #27 Indiana, #29 Tennessee, and #30 Purdue. Additionally, the Irish lost 4-3 to USC – currently ranked second – during the fall in exhibition action.
IRISH OFF TO BEST START SINCE 1984-85: Notre Dame is 10-0 for the first time since its final season as a Division II program, 1984-85, when it began with 10 consecutive victories en route to a 25-5 record and a trip to the NCAA title match. The last time the Irish were 11-0 was 1983-84, when they began with a program-record 15 consecutive victories en route to a 20-5 record and a third-place finish in the NCAA tournament. This is the fourth time Notre Dame has been 10-0, having also done it in 1980-81.
ND’S BEST UNDEFEATED STARTS: See pdf for a list of Notre Dame’s best runs of consecutive victories to start a season.
ND 28-2 IN DOUBLES THIS SPRING: Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable in partnered play this spring, going 28-2 (.933), winning the doubles point in all 10 matches, and standing a perfect 10-0 at both Nos. 2 and 3. In 21 of those contests (70%), the Irish have lost just three games or fewer. On the season, Notre Dame teams have combined for a 46-13 (.780) record in doubles. Junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), ranked second nationally after giving ND its first-ever grand slam title at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, stand 13-2 on the season (7-2 vs. ranked teams), while the No. 2 tandem of sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) – who were reunited this season after pairing to win five USTA super national titles in juniors play – are ranked 29th and sporting a 19-3 record (they had an 11-match winning streak snapped on Feb. 26 when they moved up to the No. 1 spot). Seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) are 10-0 this spring and are 21-5 overall (3-1 against ranked teams) and ranked 49th in the nation. In all, the players on Notre Dame’s roster combined for 29 USTA super national gold balls in the juniors.
IRISH 10-0 AT No. 6 SINGLES, Nos. 2 & 3 DOUBLES: Thus far this spring, Notre Dame remains unbeaten in three positions in its lineups, as the Irish have gone 10-0 at No. 6 singles, as well as Nos. 2 and 3 in doubles. Freshman Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) is 9-0 at the bottom singles spot, while senior Kelly Nelson (St. Petersburg, Fla./Shorecrest Preparatory School) won there against Xavier. Sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) are 8-0 at No. 2 doubles, while seniors Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) and Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop Gorman H.S.) won there against Xavier and Wisconsin. Connelly and Stastny are 8-0 at No. 3, with Nelson and Potts claiming a victory there in the Xavier match, and Potts teaming with junior Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) to beat Wisconsin.
STREAKIN’: Notre Dame has a pair of long individual winning streaks active heading into the weekend. Freshman Katie Potts (Brookfield, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) – who normally plays No. 6 – is 10-0 this spring in singles and has won 14 in a row, dating back to a 7-5, 6-4 decision against Northwestern’s Nazlie Ghazal on Oct. 22 in the opening round of the ITA Midwest Championships. Irish seniors Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) and Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) are also 10-0 this spring, having played mostly at No. 3. Their last defeat came on Nov. 6 in an 8-6 match against Illinois’ Brianna Knue and Macall Harkins in the Illini’s tournament, Midwest Blast VII. It is not the longest doubles winnng streak in the career of Connelly, who won 13 in a row from April 3 – Oct. 14, 2004, with two different partners. Sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) had won 11 in a row before falling in a tiebreaker on Feb. 26 against Wisconsin’s 30th-ranked team of Caitlin Burke and Nicole Beck at No. 1.
IRISH WIN 10+ IN A ROW FOR NINTH TIME: Notre Dame’s 10-0 start to the spring marks the ninth time in the 30-year varsity history of the program that the Irish have fashioned a streak of at least 10 consecutive victories. The last time that occurred was from March 30-May 13, 2001. ND’s last winning streak of more than 10 came from March 28-May 15, 1999. The program record for consecutive victories is 20, which included the final nine matches of the 1979 (fall only) campaign, as well as the first 15 in 1980-81.
LONGEST IRISH WINNING STREAKS: See pdf for a list of the longest winning streaks in the 30-year varsity history of Notre Dame women’s tennis.
ND BOASTING 11-MATCH WINNING STREAK AT HOME: Notre Dame has won 11 consecutive matches at home – four against top-25 opponents – since falling 4-3 to #13 Texas in the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Feb. 26, 2005. It is the eighth time in the 30-year varsity history of the program that the Irish have won 10 or more in a row at home. The previous such instance was a 13-match streak from Feb. 4, 2001 – Jan. 26, 2002. The longest home winning streak ever for Notre Dame was a stretch of 25 matches from Sept. 12, 1979 – Sept. 22, 1982.
LONGEST IRISH HOME WINNING STREAKS: See pdf for a list of the longest home winning streaks in the 30-year varsity history of Notre Dame women’s tennis.
IRISH GET TWO WINS OVER TOP-10 TEAMS IN FEBRUARY: After having not beaten a top-10 team since Feb. 7, 2002 (4-3 against #7 USC), Notre Dame knocked off #10 North Carolina (5-1) on Feb. 12 and then beat #9 Harvard (5-2) on Feb. 19. It marked just the third time since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86 that Notre Dame had defeated multiple top-10 squads in the same month. Both previous instances came in noteworthy seasons for the Irish, as the 1995-96 squad – which remains the only team in program history to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Championship – beat #9 Tennessee at home on Feb. 15 and then downed #6 California on Feb. 24 in the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Madison, Wis. The 2000-01 team – which peaked at an Irish all-time high of #5 in the national rankings on Feb. 28 – duplicated the feat by downing #8 Wake Forest on Feb. 10 at home and then defeating #7 Pepperdine on Feb. 17 in the Team Indoors. This year’s Irish team – which was ranked 22nd at the time it beat UNC – became the lowest-ranked Irish unit ever to knock off a top-10 opponent. That distinction had previously belonged to the 1993-94 team that was ranked 17th when it beat #10 Kansas in the National Team Indoor Championship.
TOP ALL-TIME IRISH WINS: See pdf for a list of Notre Dame’s 14 all-time victories against top-10 teams since becoming a Division I program in 1985-86, ordered by opponent ranking.
ND 7-0 AGAINST TOP-30 TEAMS: Notre Dame’s 10-0 start has seen the Irish take on seven squads ranked in the national top 30 at the time of the match. The Irish have wins against #23 Wake Forest (4-3), #10 North Carolina (5-1), #30 Michigan (6-1), #22 Tennessee (7-0), #9 Harvard (5-2), #20 Brigham Young (5-2), and #27 Indiana (7-0). During a 15-day stretch from Feb. 11-25, Notre Dame played six matches, with all of them against top-30 teams.
PUTTING THEM AWAY FAST: Not only has Notre Dame won all of its dual matches this spring, but it has put most of them away early, going up 4-0 in eight of the 10 contests. The only match truly in question deep into the singles portion came on Feb. 11 at #23 Wake Forest, when the Irish built a 3-0 lead, but then had to win in three sets in the final match remaining to secure a 4-3 victory. The other contest in which ND did not clinch the match before the other side scored a point was on Feb. 25 against #20 Brigham Young, when the Irish clinched it at 4-1.
NOTRE DAME IN MIDST OF LONGEST HOMESTAND SINCE 1992-93: Notre Dame is in the mdist of a seven-match homestand, as the Irish will not hit the road again until they travel to Orlando, Fla., for spring break to face Duke on March 15. This is the longest homestand for ND since a seven-match one – in which the Irish were victorious in every match – from March 18-April 2 in 1993. Notre Dame did play each of its first nine dual matches of the 1993-94 campaign at home, though that was interrupted by the Rolex ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, which were then contested in February.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Jay Louderback is in his 17th season at Notre Dame with a 292-147 (.667) record and his 26th year as a collegiate coach with a 496-325 (.605) mark. He ranks fifth among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories. Louderback’s Irish have finished in the national top 30 in each of the last 13 seasons and have won 12 conference titles. Since the preseason of the 1992-93 season, Louderback’s teams have been in the national top 30 in 208 of 210 sets of ITA rankings. After taking over a program looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance, Louderback has helped Notre Dame to the NCAAs 12 times in the last 13 years (which only 10 other schools have done), including five appearances in the round of 16 and a 1996 quarterfinal finish. Louderback, a four-time Midwest Region coach of the year, has been honored as his conference’s top coach on eight occasions, including five times in 10 years in the BIG EAST. In his time at Notre Dame, Louderback’s players have earned All-America honors 15 times, won four national ITA awards, and earned 20 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 12 to the NCAA doubles tournament. In the fall, he delivered the first individual title in an ITA grand slam event, when junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) won the doubles crown in the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships. His players have dominated the University awards during Louderback’s tenure, leading all sports in both Byron V. Kanaley awards (six) and Francis Patrick O’Connor awards (six). His family was honored with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tennis Family of the Year Award for 2002. The Arkansas City, Kan., native, and 1976 graduate of Wichita State arrived at Notre Dame prior to the 1989-90 season after coaching for seven years at his alma mater and three years (men and women) at Iowa State.
LOUDERBACK CLOSING IN ON 500TH CAREER WIN: Notre Dame head coach Jay Louderback – in his 17th season with the Irish and his 27th overall as a head coach – enters the weekend with 496 career victories as a head coach, needing just four to join an elite group of only 10 all-time women’s tennis head coaches to have posted 500+ career wins. He will be one of only seven active coaches in that club. Louderback holds a 496-324 (.605) overall record, including 292-146 (.667) at Notre Dame. He also ws 122-94 (.565) in seven years (1980-86) at Wichita State and 82-84 (.494) in three seasons (1986-89) coaching both men’s and women’s tennis at Iowa State. See pdf for the all-time career wins leaders for collegiate women’s tennis coaches, courtesy of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Records are as of March 2.
THOMPSONS GIVE ND TWO TOP-50 SINGLES PLAYERS FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1999: Junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) – who are ranked 27th and 32nd, respectively, in singles in the latest edition of the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings – have combined this spring to give Notre Dame multiple players among the national top 50 in singles for the first time since the initial set of spring rankings in 1998-99, when current assistant coach Michelle Dasso was eighth and Becky Varnum was 47th. Notre Dame is one of just eight schools with multiple players among the top 35 in singles, along with Baylor, California, Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, and TCU.
THOMPSONS GIVE ND FIRST-EVER GRAND SLAM TITLE: Junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) fought off two match points and finally prevailed in a tiebreaker to give the University of Notre Dame its first-ever title in an Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national championship, winning 9-8 (9-7) over Spaniard Lucia Sainz and German Kathrina Winterhalter from Fresno State in the final of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, the first grand slam of the 2005-06 season. Both teams had two match points in the contest, which is the closest doubles final in All-Amercan Championships history since the current pro-set format was adopted in 2001. The Thompsons are the first team from any school to reach the title match of the ITA All-American Championships in consecutive years and come away with a title. Each of the three previous back-to-back finalists had gone winless in both attempts. Notre Dame – which knocked off three top-seven teams to reach the final – lost just 16 total games in the tournament, the second-fewest ever by a doubles champion, behind only the 11 surrendered by Sarah Riske and Aleke Tsoubanos of Vanderbilt in 2002. The Irish opened with an 8-0 victory over the seventh-ranked team of Gabrielle Duch and Neyssa Etienne of South Florida. The twins beat #6 Alice Barnes/Anne Yelsey of Stanford 9-7 in the quarters and came back with an 8-1 triumph against #3 Iva Gersic/Maja Kovacek of New Mexico in the semifinals. Catrina and Christian are the second set of twins from any school – and the first in the All-Americans – ever to win an ITA national championship, following Tami and Teri Whitlinger of Stanford, who won the 1989 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. The Thompsons – who have been among the final four teams remaining in three of the last four grand slams – improved to 11-4 in their careers in grand slam events. They are now 7-1 in the All-American Championships after Irish competitors had been just 2-5 in its doubles main draw prior to that.
STREAKS: The following streaks are active heading into this weekend:
– Notre Dame is 10-0 this season. [last loss: 5/14/05 at #6 Northwestern, 4-0, NCAA second round]
– Notre Dame has won 11 consecutive home matches. [last loss: 2/26/05 vs. #13 Texas, 4-3]
– Notre Dame has won the doubles point in all 10 matches this sason. [last doubles-point loss: 5/14/05 vs. #6 Northwestern, lost at Nos. 2 and 3]
– Notre Dame has won at No. 6 singles in 14 consecutive matches. [last loss: 4/10/05, Indiana’s Cecile Perton def. Sarah Jane Connelly 6-1, 1-6, 6-3]
– Notre Dame has won at No. 2 doubles in every match this season. [last loss: 5/14/05, Northwestern’s Alexis Prousis/Kristi Roemer def. Brook Buck/Lauren Connelly 9-8 (7-4)]
– Notre Dame has won at No. 3 doubles in every match this season. [last loss: 5/14/05, Northwestern’s Feriel Esseghir/Valerie Vladea def. Sarah Jane Connelly/Kristina Stastny 8-4]
– Notre Dame has won 21 consecutive dual matches when winning at No. 3 singles. [last loss: 4/21/04 at #61 Purdue, 4-3, Catrina Thompson def. Amy Walgenbach 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3]
– Catrina Thompson has won 10 consecutive home doubles matches. [last loss: 2/26/05 vs. Texas’ Katie Ruckert/Kendra Strohm 8-5]
– Christian Thompaon is 8-0 in her career in singles matches against BIG EAST Conference players.
– Catrina Thompson/Christian Thompson are 4-0 this season in close matches (8-6, 9-7, 9-8). [last loss: 4/13/05 vs. Illinois’ Goulet/Wang 8-6]
– Brook Buck has won 29 consecutive matches when taking the opening set (29-1 career record). [only loss: 9/19/04 vs. Denver’s Jenny Trettin 1-6, 6-3, 6-1]
– Kelcy Tefft has won five consecutive singles matches. [last loss: 2/15/06 vs. Michigan’s Debra Streifler 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 1-0 (10-3)]
– Kristina Stastny has won five consecutive singles matches on the road. [last loss: 11/4/05 vs. Illinois’ Brianna Knue 6-0, 6-1]
– Kristina Stastny is 4-0 in her career as the final match remaining with the doubles point still undecided.
– Lauren Connelly/Kristina Stastny have won 10 consecutive matches in doubles. [last loss: 11/6/05 vs. Illinois’ Knue/Harkins 8-6]
– Katie Potts has won 14 consecutive singles matches. [last loss: 10/22/05 vs. Northwestern’s Nazlie Ghazal 7-5, 6-4]
– Katie Potts has won seven consecutive singles matches on the road. [last loss: 10/22/05 vs. Northwestern’s Nazlie Ghazal 7-5, 6-4]
– Katie Potts is 14-0 as a collegian when winning the first set.
– Lauren Connelly has won five consecutive singles matches [last loss: 10/23/05 vs. #50 Alexis Prousis of Northwestern, 6-0, 6-2]
– Lauren Connelly has won seven consecutive singles matches against BIG EAST Conference players (9-1 career record). [only loss: 4/12/03 vs. Miami’s Sara Robbins 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (10-4)]
– Kelly Nelson has won four consecutive singles matches. [last loss: 10/21/05 vs. Michigan’s Allie Shafner, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2]
– Kelly Nelson is 8-0 this season in close sets (6-4, 7-5, or 7-6). [last loss: 11/9/03 vs. Illinois’ Emily Wang, 7-6 in second set]
– Kelly Nelson has won six consecutive close singles matches (three sets, match tiebreaker, or two sets with difference of games of 4 or fewer). [last loss: 11/7/03 vs. Virginia’s Caroline Hammond 6-7 (7-4), 6-4, 6-1]
– Kelly Nelson has won five consecutive singles matches outdoors. [last loss: 9/23/05 vs. West Virginia’s Monica Lyskawa 6-3, 6-2]
MOST-COMMON OPPONENTS: See pdf for the list of schools Notre Dame has played most in its 30 seasons of varsity women’s tennis.
MOST WINS VS. ONE TEAM: See pdf for the list of schools Notre Dame has defeated most in its 30 seasons of varsity women’s tennis.
LONGEST WINNING STREAKS: See pdf for the longest winning streaks against a single opponent in the 30 seasons of Notre Dame varsity women’s tennis.
MOST LOSSES AGAINST ONE TEAM: See pdf for the list of teams that have defeated Notre Dame most in its 30 years of varsity women’s tennis.
MOST WINS IN LOUDERBACK ERA: See pdf for the list of schools Notre Dame has defeated most since head coach Jay Louderback began his tenure in 1989-90.
BIG ELEVEN (OR TWELVE)?: Though Notre Dame participates in the BIG EAST Conference in women’s tennis, a glance at the Irish schedule may not bear out that fact. Notre Dame faces only two BIG EAST foes (Marquette and DePaul) during the regular season, but will take on a total of eight teams from the Big Ten Conference. Only Penn State, Minnesota, and Michigan State from the Big Ten will not play the Irish this season. Notre Dame has had a long history of playing Big Ten teams, posting an all-time 126-73 (.633) mark, averaging over six matches per season against Big Ten teams in the 30-year history of the program. Since the arrival of head coach Jay Louderback in 1989-90, the Irish are 99-34 (.744) against the league. Each of the six most common opponents for Notre Dame in the history of the program are members of the Big Ten (Northwestern-28 matches, Illinois-26, Purdue-24, Michigan-24, Wisconsin-21, Indiana-20). The Irish went 7-3 against Big Ten opponents last season and are 4-0 thus far this spring, having won against Ohio State (7-0), Michigan (6-1), Wisconsin (6-1), and Indiana (7-0).
THOMPSONS START SPRING AT #1: Notre Dame junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) became the top-ranked doubles team in college tennis following the fall portion of the 2005-06 season when the Jan. 10 rankings were released. It was the second time that the Thompson sisters (as well as any ND duo) had been ranked #1 in the nation. They achieved that listing on Feb. 22, 2005, but it was short-lived, as the twins were defeated in their first match after that and fell to #2 in the next of rankings before finishing 2004-05 at fifth. This season, the Thompsons went 5-1 while being ranked #1, but fell to second in the Feb. 22 rankings. They remain only the second set of twin sisters ever to be ranked #1 by the ITA (Tami and Teri Whitlinger of Stanford in 1989). Stanford twins Mike and Bob Bryan – currently ranked #1 in the ATP’s world rankings – also were #1 in 1998.
TWO DECISIVE TIEBREAKERS GIVE USC 4-3 EXHIBITION WIN OVER ND: After nearly 10 hours of play (due to playing concurrent to a men’s match), the exhibition match between the Notre Dame and USC – which began the spring ranked fifth in the nation – on Oct. 14 came down to a single tiebreaker at No. 2 singles, where Dianne Matias prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) over Irish junior Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) to hand the Women of Troy a 4-3 victory. USC’s victory also was keyed by a tiebreaker victory in the final doubles match on court.
ND ONE OF FIVE SCHOOLS TO HAVE ENTIRE LINEUP IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: When the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) released its regional rankings at the end of the fall portion of the season, Notre Dame was one of only five Division I schools – along with Stanford, USC, Baylor, and California – to have its entire lineup earn regional ranks. In addition to having six players among the top 30 in the Midwest Region, three of the top five doubles teams in the region belong to the Irish; junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) were #1, while sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) came in fourth, and seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) were fifth. Only one other school (Northwestern) had even multiple squads among the 15 Midwest Region doubles teams listed. In singles, Catrina Thompson led the way at third, while Christian Thompson was 10th, Buck came in 14th, Tefft was 18th, Connelly was 25th, and Stastny was 27th. The last time ND had the top doubles team in the Midwest Region rankings was at the conclusion of the 2000-01 campaign, when current assistant coach Michelle Dasso and Becky Varnum held that spot. Catrina Thompson is the highest-ranked ND singles player in the regional rankings since Alicia Salas concluded her career at #2 in 2003-04.
IRISH DEPTH ON DISPLAY AT ITA MIDWEST CHAMPIONSHIPS: Notre Dame’s depth was evident at the ITA Midwest Championships – the annual indoor tournament of the top players in the Midwest Region. The Irish were one of just two schools (along with Northwestern) to have three players – senior captain Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and juniors Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) – among the final 16 in singles. Catrina Thompson reached the semis before falling. ND and the Wildcats also were the only squads to have multiple doubles teams in the quarterfinals: Connelly and fellow senior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) plus sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.). The Thompsons – who were ranked #2 nationally at the time – did not compete in doubles in the tournament.
IRISH ADD MARCH 31 HOME MATCH WITH EASTERN MICHIGAN: Notre Dame has added another match to its spring slate, as the Irish will play host to Eastern Michigan on Friday, March 31 at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Notre Dame’s originally-scheduled match at Tulane on April 15 has been cancelled, since the Green Wave program was suspended in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That changed freed up a date for the Irish to schedule another match.
IRISH A PERENNIAL TOP-30 TEAM: Not only has Notre Dame finished in the top 30 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings in each of the last 13 seasons, but the Irish also have been a near-constant presence. Since the preseason rankings of the 1992-93 season, Notre Dame has been among the top 30 teams in the country in 208 of 210 (99.0%) sets of rankings. The first exception came in late March of 2003, when the transition to the computer rankings moved the Irish from 15th to 27th to 48th and then back to 27th (despite going 6-2 during that time). The second slip out of the top 30 came on April 5 of 2004-05, when ND fell three spots to 31st before moving back to up 26th the following week.
CAPTAIN CONNELLY, THE SEQUEL: Senior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) will serve as Notre Dame’s sole captain during the 2005-06 season. She took over the mantle from her sister, Sarah Jane Connelly, who was Notre Dame’s sole senior in 2004-05. The Connellys are the first sisters to serve as captains of the Irish women’s tennis team, as well as just the fifth sister captain duo in Notre Dame athletics history, following Kathy and Susan Valdiserri (fencing), Julie and Tracy Melby (golf), Carol and Maggie Lally (basketball), and Jessica and Kristen Kinder (volleyball).
THOMPSONS FEATURED IN “SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ON CAMPUS” A LIST: Junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) were two of the 14 student-athletes featured on the “A List” of elite collegiate performers across all sports in the October 13 issue of Sports Illustrated On Campus. In the words of SI On Campus: “Think of the A List this way: the coolest, the hottest, the most of-the-moment, the cream of the crop. Here are 14 faces SIOC would usher to the front of just about any line, no questions asked.” The Thompsons were the only tennis players featured among the group, which also includes the likes of football Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart of USC and Vince Young of Texas, as well as Connecticut basketball standout Rudy Gay.
WOMEN’S TENNIS “GOLD GAME” SET FOR APRIL 5 vs. #6 NORTHWESTERN: Notre Dame’s matchup with #6 Northwestern on Wednesday, April 5 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) has been designated as this season’s women’s tennis “Gold Game,” a distinction created by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council to encourage the entire Notre Dame community to attend particular contests. The match will feature the two teams that have been consistently the top squads in the Midwest Region over the past decade. Northwestern has won the last seven matches in the series – with three of those coming by 4-3 scores – after the Irish had won six straight prior to that. In the Wildcats’ last visit, NU won a third-set tiebreaker in the decisive match to win 4-3.
ND SIGNS TRIO OF TOP RECRUITS, INCLUDING NATION’S #1 PLAYER: Notre Dame women’s tennis head coach Jay Louderback announced that three stars of prep and junior tennis – Cosmina Ciobanu (Brea, Calif./Troy H.S.), Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan./Arkansas City H.S.), and Colleen Rielley (Overland Park, Kan./Bishop Miege H.S.) – signed national letters of intent in the early period and will join the Irish in the fall of 2006. At the time of announcement (Nov. 15, 2005), Rielley was #1 in the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) 18-and-under girls’ singles national rankings, while Ciobanu was 17th, and Krisik – a two-time Kansas state champion (2002 and `03) – was 76th. Ciobanu won the Southern California Sectional singles championship in 2005 and also reached the singles final of a USTA National Open last year. She was ranked as high as 15th nationally in singles in `05. Krisik is Louderback’s niece, and she is part of the first mother-daughter combination ever to play for the longtime Irish mentor. Louderback’s sister, Jan, was his first recruit when he began his head coaching career at Wichita State in 1980. Krisik will join both her uncle and her cousin, current sophomore Bailey Louderback (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.), in the Irish program. Rielley is the first Notre Dame signee ever to have been ranked #1 in the USTA girls’ 18s. A three-time prep state champ (Missouri in `03, Kansas in `04 and `05), she won the singles title in the 2004 USTA Winter National Championships, took third in the ’05 National Clay Courts, and also is ranked fourth nationally in doubles.
WE ARE FAMILY: Notre Dame women’s tennis has long featured members of the same family on its teams. For the fourth consecutive season, Notre Dame will have a set of sisters on its roster: junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.). They last year became the first set of Irish sisters — and first twins of either sex — to both become All-Americans. The previous three seasons had featured two pairs of sisters on each Irish roster, but that has changed with the graduation of Maggie Donohue in 2003 and Sarah Jane Connelly last spring. Another family connection was added last season, as head coach Jay Louderback’s daughter, Bailey Louderback (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.), joined the team. He became the 11th Notre Dame coach — just the second in a women’s sport (along with softball’s Brian Boulac) — to have coached his son or daughter with the Irish. Next year, Louderback’s niece, Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan./Arkansas City H.S.) will join the Irish roster.
DAVID DiLUCIA NOW PERSONAL COACH FOR LINDSAY DAVENPORT: A five-time All-American during his four-year career at Notre Dame (1988-92), David DiLucia, left his job with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in December 2005 to become the personal coach of the world’s #1 player, Lindsay Davenport. DiLucia was ranked #1 in both singles and doubles during his collegiate career and then went on to play in the singles main draw in all four professional grand slams before retiring in 2002. During his pro career, DiLucia earned wins over players such as Gustavo Kuerten, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Mark Philippoussis, and David Wheaton.
ND #1 IN NACDA DIRECTORS’ CUP: Notre Dame is in first place in the most-recent set of standings in the 2005-06 United States Sports Academy Directors’ Cup all-sports competition sponsored by the National Association of Collegiate Dirctors of Athletics (NACDA), which were released on Jan. 12 and included results from all fall sports. Fall NCAA competition earned the Irish 412 points based on their third-place finish in men’s cross country (85 points), their seventh-place finish in women’s cross country (69 points), their quarterfinal appearance in women’s soccer (73), their third-round appearance in men’s soccer (64), their regional semifinal appearance in women’s volleyball (64) and their 11th-place finish in football based on the final USA Today poll (57). This marks the second straight year Notre Dame has ranked atop the final fall standings – and its 412 points are its highest-ever fall total. Penn State (308.5 points) ranks second, Stanford (282) is third, and Duke (280) and Wisconsin (277) round out the top five. Notre Dame finished 16th in 2004-05, its fifth consecutive top-20 placing, and has three times finished an all-time high of 11th (1993-94, `95-96, 2000-01). Duke posted its all-time best finish of fifth in 2004-05.
CHANGES TO THE ITA RANKINGS: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) recently announced some changes to its national rankings for the 2005-06 season: (1) It will use one set of points for wins and also a tighter set of points, with less gaps. This set of points will be the same set that has been used for the season’s first computer rankings in the past; (2) There will be bonus points awarded for road wins; (3) The rankings that are run at the time of NCAA Championship selections will be run twice and the second run of the rankings will be the published ranking; (4) There will be expanded, unpublished rankings (and values for opponents): 76-125 for team, 126-175 for singles, and 61-90 for doubles; (5) The first computer rankings (for team) will take place 2 weeks earlier on March 8; (6) The singles and doubles rankings from Fall results will go back to being a computer ranking; it had been done by committee vote the past three years.
KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME TENNIS: For the fastest results of Notre Dame tennis matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #8. The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com. The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame tennis match. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Bo Rottenborn at Rottenborn.firstname.lastname@example.org, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.