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Alicia Salas, Kelly Nelson Claim Eck Classic Singles Titles

Nov. 10, 2002

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Click below for complete final results from the 2002 Eck Classic in PDF format.

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Junior Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo.) and freshman Kelly Nelson (St. Petersburg, Fla.) each captured singles titles Sunday on the final day of play in the 15th annual Eck Classic in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Salas topped teammate Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla.) in the Blue Flight championship, while Nelson posted an impressive 6-0, 6-1 win for the Gold Flight title. The whole Irish roster was impressive once again, taking the top three spots in the Blue Flight, a pair of singles consolation titles, and three of the top four places in doubles on the final day of the last event on Notre Dame’s fall schedule. The Irish will open their dual-match season with a home contest against Western Michigan on Jan. 22 at 4:00 p.m.

Despite a tough first set, Salas was able to conclude her impressive fall season on a high note by defeating her teammate 6-4, 6-1. The Irish junior, ranked 86th coming into the season, is likely to move up in the national rankings after an 11-4 fall that included two wins over ranked opponents, a runner-up finish in the OSU/Prince Cup and the Eck Classic title.

Salas will head into the spring having won seven of her last eight singles contests. She now has a 58-14 (.806) career record, which currently ranks as the fourth-highest singles winning percentage in school history. Salas lost just eight games in four matches in the Eck Classic and has now held her opponent to five games or fewer on 32 occasions in 72 career matches (44 percent). She was won 10 consecutive matches in the Eck Tennis Pavilion and is 26-2 in her career at home.

Nelson was dominant in defeating Syracuse’s Kristine Holte in her title match. The freshman led Notre Dame in singles victories this fall, posting a 12-5 mark. She has won seven of her last eight matches and became the first Notre Dame freshman to win a singles title in the Eck Classic since Michelle Dasso won the No. 1 Flight in the 1998 event. Dasso, who holds school records in nearly every category in the Irish recordbook, including career singles and doubles wins, is the only four-time All-American in the program’s history.

Also finishing an outstanding first collegiate fall was Connelly, who was 8-5 in singles, including wins over a pair of top-70 opponents.

Notre Dame’s team of senior captain Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash.) and freshman Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo.) fell 8-6 in their bid for the Eck doubles title. Lara Burgarello and Missy Wright of Purdue claimed the championship, completing a trio of victories over Notre Dame teams to accomplish the feat. Cunha and Stastny teamed up for the latter half of the fall, compiling a 5-2 record.

Stastny, who lost to Connelly in a match tiebreaker in Saturday’s semifinals, rebounded to top Indiana’s Sarah Batty 6-4, 6-3 to claim third place in the Blue Flight. The first-year player was 7-5 in singles this fall with three of her losses coming to ranked opponents and one to her teammate.

Sophomore Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla.) completed her run to the Blue Flight consolation title on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Purdue’s Amy Walgenbach. Connelly lost only 10 games in three consolation matches after falling in the first round of the main draw. She is 8-5 this season with three of her losses coming to ranked players.

A pair of Notre Dame sisters topped the backdraw in the Gold Flight, though senior Maggie Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and freshman Liz Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D.) did not play the consolation title match. Instead, each took on a Syracuse player in consolation action on Sunday with Liz Donohue defeating Wei-Ming Leong 6-0, 6-1. Trine Juliussen, who was 3-1 in the tournament with a close loss to Nelson in the quarterfinals, edged Maggie Donohue in a match tiebreaker.

Another all-Irish match that was not played was the third-place tilt in the doubles draw. The team of Sarah Jane Connelly and freshman Jennifer Smith (Charlotte, N.C.) defeated Syracuse’s Leong and Daniela Kaluskova 8-2 instead of taking on the other main-draw semifinal losers, Nelson and Liz Donohue. The latter team beat another Orangewoman pair, Masha Kabanova and Sherwin Saedinia 8-6.

Connelly and Smith were the only two Irish players to pair together in doubles for the entire fall season. They compiled a 9-4 record and have won six of their last seven, excluding a semifinal loss to teammates Cunha and Stastny. Nelson and Donohue were 6-3 as a team.

In other consolation play, Salas and Lauren Connelly, in a tuneup for their singles showdown, defeated Batty and Martins Grimm of Indiana 8-5 and sophomore Jami Kirk (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), who picked up her first career singles and doubles wins on Friday, defeated Syracuse’s Alexa Konstand 6-1, 5-7, 1-0 (10-6).

Notre Dame’s fall slate was comprised of four tournaments: the OSU/Prince Cup, the adidas Invitational, the OMNI HOTELS Midwest Championships and the Eck Classic. The Irish, who finished last season ranked 23rd in the country, will face a difficult dual-match schedule, highlighted by eight teams that advanced to the Sweet 16 a year ago.

The Eck Classic has been held each year in the Eck Tennis Pavilion since its construction in 1987. The format of this year’s tournament was two 16-player singles brackets (Blue and Gold Flights) and one 16-team doubles tournament. Four other teams, Indiana, Louisville, Purdue and Syracuse, joined the Irish in the event.

Eck Classic


Blue Flight


#86 Alicia Salas (ND) d. Lauren Connelly (ND) 6-4, 6-1

Third-Place Match

Kristina Stastny (ND) d. Sarah Batty (Indiana) 6-4, 6-3

Consolation Championship

Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Amy Walgenbach (Purdue) 6-4, 6-2

Gold Flight


Kelly Nelson (ND) d. Kristine Holte (Syracuse) 6-1, 6-0


Trine Juliussen (SU) d. Maggie Donohue (ND) 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-6)

Liz Donohue (ND) d. Wei-Ming Leong (SU) 6-0, 6-1

Jami Kirk (ND) d. Alexa Konstand (SU) 6-1, 5-7, 1-0 (10-6)



Lara Burgarello/Missy Wright (PU) d. Katie Cunha/Stastny (ND) 8-6


L. Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Batty/Martina Grimm (IU) 8-5

S.J. Connelly/Jennifer Smith (ND) d. Daniela Kaluskova/Leong (SU) 8-2

L. Donohue/Nelson (ND) d. Masha Kabanova/Sherwin Saedinia (SU) 8-6

Jessica Groth/Sophie Rychlik (IU) d. M. Donohue/Kirk (ND) 8-4