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Another Heartbreaking Third-Set Tiebreaker as Notre Dame Falls 4-3 at Purdue

April 21, 2004

LAFAYETTE, Ind. – For the third time in four matches, the 27th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (10-10) dropped a third-set tiebreaker in losing 4-3, as Granger native and 1999 Penn High School graduate Melissa Woods beat Irish junior Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma Ciy, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) at No. 6 singles to hand #61 Purdue the upset victory Wednesday afternoon in the Lafayette Sports Center. Notre Dame took a 3-0 lead, but the Boilermakers won the final four singles matches — including two in three sets — to hand the Irish their fourth 4-3 loss of the season and third in 12 days.

In the final match, which went on more than an hour with the team score tied 3-3 and no other contests remaining, Woods did not commit an error in the tiebreaker, jumping out to a 5-0 lead and converting on her first match point for a 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-1) victory. Connelly, who was in the same position earlier this month in a 4-3 loss to William & Mary, lost a tiebreaker for the first time this season, after having won six in a row, dating back to last year.

Connelly’s return was effective early in the set, winning 10 of the first 11 points on Woods’ serve. She led 4-1 and 40-15 before Woods began rushing the net more frequently, which instigated a comeback. The Boiler then won four straight games and served for the set at 5-4. Connelly broke serve and held to go up 6-5. She then had a team match point on Woods’ serve, but dumped a backhand volley into the net. The Purdue senior proceeded to win 11 of the next 13 points to clinch the victory.

The Irish won the doubles point and then got a pair of quick victories in singles to move within one point of triumph. The match’s initial point came down to a tiebreaker at No. 2, where senior co-captain Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) and sophomore Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) prevailed 7-3 over Hala Sufi and Shawna Zuccarini. The Irish duo held a 7-2 lead and also was up 8-7 before the Boilermakers forced a tiebreaker. Salas and Connelly have won six in a row and are 21-7 on the season, including 15-5 in dual matches at No. 2 and 10-3 vs. Midwest Region foes.

Freshman twins Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), ranked 44th, were first off in doubles, notching an 8-2 victory at No. 1 against Woods and Gretchen Haynor. The Thompsons are 20-14 this season.

In the other doubles match, Lara Burgarello and Alyssa Rodriguez won the final three games to overcome a 6-5 deficit in defeating Sarah Jane Connelly and senior Emily Neighbours (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor School) 8-6 at No. 3.

The Thompsons lost just three combined games in notching easy singles victories. Christian took only 55 minutes to beat Haynor 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2, winning 10 straight games to finish the match. She has won five of her last six and is 23-13 this season. Catrina won 6-1, 6-1 in 63 minutes against Amy Walgenbach at No. 3 to improve to 19-13.

Purdue got on the board when Rodriguez completed a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Lauren Connelly at No. 4. Sufi then registered an upset of 19th-ranked Salas, winning 6-2, 0-6, 6-0 at No. 1. Zuccarini tied the match at 3-3 by downing sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5.

The match was Notre Dame’s fourth consecutive loss and third in that span by a score of 4-3. On April 10, Willaim & Mary won all three three-set matches to rally from a 3-1 deficit and beat Notre Dame, partly on the strength of a third-set tiebreaker win at No. 3. Last Thursday, #11 Northwestern won a third-set ‘breaker at No. 4 to clinch a 4-3 win at Notre Dame after the Irish had a 2-0 lead.

Purdue played in a 4-3 match for the 11th time in 21 contests this season, including the fourth match in a row. The Boilers are 5-6 in those affairs.

The Irish finished the regular season and will next be in action April 29-May 1 in the BIG EAST Championship in Coral Gables, Fla. The seedings, draw, and schedule for that event will be announced early next week.

#61 Purdue 4, #27 Notre Dame 3


No. 1: Hala Sufi (P) d. #19 Alicia Salas (ND) 6-2, 0-6, 6-0

No. 2: Christian Thompson (ND) d. Gretchen Haynor (P) 6-2, 6-0

No. 3: Catrina Thompson (ND) d. Amy Walgenbach (P) 6-2, 6-1

No. 4: Alyssa Rodriguez (P) d. Lauren Connelly (ND) 6-2, 6-3

No. 5: Shawna Zuccarini (P) d. Kristina Stastny (ND) 6-3, 6-4

No. 6: !Melissa Woods (P) d. Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-1)

Order of Finish: 2, 3, 4, 1, 5, 6!


No. 1: #44 Thompson/Thompson (ND) d. Haynor/Woods (P) 8-2

No. 2: !L. Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Zuccarini/Sufi (P) 9-8 (7-4)

No. 3: Lara Burgarello/Rodriguez (P) d. S.J. Connelly/Emily Neighbours (ND) 8-6

Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2!

* denotes clinching win; ! denotes clinching win in final match on-court