Oct. 17, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame senior co-captain Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) continued her stellar play, defeating the nation’s 15th-ranked player to lead the Irish women’s tennis team to a 4-3 victory over USC Friday in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame took the doubles point and salvaged a split of the singles matches to top the Women of Troy, who have four starters back from last year’s team that finished with a No. 5 national ranking.
With the Irish leading 3-2, but down a set in the other match remaining on-court, Salas, ranked 63rd nationally in singles, completed an upset of #15 Luana Magnani at No. 1 singles in a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) decision. She served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set, but could not convert on her first two match points before finally clinching the win in the tiebreaker.
The win was the fifth over a ranked player in less than two weeks for Salas, who upended four ranked foes in last week’s Riviera/ITA All-American Championships. The Irish senior is 7-3 on the season, with four wins over top-40 players. Magnani is the highest-ranked player ever to fall victim to Salas.
Because the Notre Dame and USC men’s tennis teams played concurrently, the match featured Nos. 4, 5, and 6 singles played first, followed by Nos. 1, 2, and 3 doubles, and finally, Nos. 1, 2, and 3 singles.
Notre Dame held a 2-1 advantage after the first wave of matches, though USC got on the board first with a 6-0, 7-5 victory from Judy DeVera at No. 4 singles. Irish sophomore Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) evened the score with a 7-6 (7-0), 6-3 victory against Erica Sauer at No. 6. Notre Dame freshman Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) gave her team the lead with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Bernadette Bayani at No. 5.
The Irish then won the bottom two doubles matches to extend their lead to 3-1. The No. 43 team in college tennis, Connelly and sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), was off the court first, with an 8-4 victory over DeVera and Sauer at No. 3. Salas and sophomore Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), ranked 36th, clinched the point with an 8-4 win at No. 2 against Melissa Esmero and Dianne Matias. Magnani and Carine Vermeulen got an 8-5 win at No. 1 in the final doubles match.
The Women of Troy pulled to within 3-2 when Vermeulen completed a 6-2, 6-2 win over Irish freshman Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) at No. 2 singles, setting the stage for Salas’ victory. In the final match, Matias won in straight sets at No. 3.
Notre Dame took two of three singles matches played Friday that did not factor into the team score. Sophomore Liz Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D./O’Gorman H.S.) beat Megan Kawahara 6-1, 6-0 at No. 8 before senior Emily Neighbours (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor School) topped the same opponent 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-4) at No. 9.
The Irish will return to action Oct. 23-28 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich. and will next play at home on Saturday, Jan. 31 against Ohio State at 11 a.m. (EST).
Notre Dame 4, USC 3 (exhibition)
No. 1: *#63 Alicia Salas (ND) d. #15 Luana Magnani (USC) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)
No. 2: #93 Carine Vermeulen (USC) d. Catrina Thompson (ND) 6-2, 6-2
No. 3: Dianne Matias (USC) d. Lauren Connelly (ND) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
No. 4: Judy DeVera (USC) d. Kristina Stastny (ND) 6-0, 7-5
No. 5: Christian Thompson (ND) d. Bernadette Bayani (USC) 6-2, 6-2
No. 6: Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Erica Sauer (USC) 7-6 (7-0), 6-3
No. 7: Melissa Esmero (USC) d. Kelly Nelson (ND) 6-0, 6-0
No. 8: Liz Donohue (ND) d. Megan Kawahara (USC) 6-1, 6-0
No. 9: Emily Neighbours (ND) d. Kawahara (USC) 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-4)
Order of Finish: 4, 6, 5, 2, 1*, 3
No. 1: Magnani/Vermeulen (USC) d. Thompson/Thompson (ND) 8-5
No. 2: *#36 L. Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Esmero/Matias (USC) 8-4
No. 3: #43 S.J. Connelly/Stastny (ND) d. DeVera/Sauer (USC) 8-4
Order of Finish: 3, 2*, 1
* denotes clinching match
Note: Only top six singles and top three doubles count in team score.