Jan. 13, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team is listed 22nd in the preseason edition of the Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings, released today by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Junior Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) was the lone Irish player mentioned in the fall individual rankings, listed 124th in singles. Notre Dame, which finished 23rd last season, has been ranked in the preseason top 25 in each of the last 13 years. Three Irish players will compete in the National Collegiate Tennis Classic this weekend before the team faces Western Michigan on Wed., Jan. 22 at 4:00 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Pavilion to open a dual-match slate featuring nine matches against teams in the top 16 of the preseason rankings.
After guiding the Irish to a 17-8 mark in his first year at Notre Dame, head coach Jay Louderback’s 1990-91 squad earned the first Division I national ranking in the program’s history when it was listed 25th in the preseason. Since then, Notre Dame has started each season in the top 25. The Irish, who have finished in the national top 30 in each of the last 10 years, have been ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams in each of the last 118 sets of rankings released by the ITA, dating back to the fall of 1995.
Salas, who was listed 12th in the midwest region rankings released last month, was 11-4 in the fall, notching two wins over ranked opponents. Ranked 86th heading into the fall, she reached the final in the OSU/Prince Cup and captured the Eck Classic title and enters the spring season having won seven of her last eight matches. One of her fall victories was a three-set triumph in the adidas Invitational over Northwestern’s Christelle Grier, who was listed as the top singles player in the region and 16th in the country. Three of Salas’ four losses in the fall came to players currently ranked, including two top-20 competitors. A year ago, Salas was 31-6 in singles play, while tying the school record for dual-match wins in a season with a 24-3 mark. In her career, she is 58-14 (.806), which currently ranks as the fourth-highest singles winning percentage in school history.
Notre Dame’s 21-match spring schedule features 18 teams ranked in the top 60 and 11 listed among the nation’s 30 best squads. The final 15 matches of the regular season for Notre Dame will be against ranked teams.
The Irish will play host to eight ranked teams, including a pair in the preseason top five. Fourth-ranked Duke (led by Kelly McCain, the #2 singles player in the nation) will visit the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Feb. 21, while 2002 NCAA quarterfinalist North Carolina, listed fifth this season, will visit Notre Dame on Feb. 1. The Irish will play host to top-15 teams on consecutive days in early march, welcoming #15 Wake Forest (an ’02 national quarterfinalist) and #13 Texas March 1-2. William & Mary, ranked 16th, will travel to Notre Dame on March 23.
Notre Dame’s difficult road slate features trips to #6 Arizona State (March 14), ’02 NCAA semifinalist #11 Tennessee (Feb. 23), #12 Northwestern (Jan. 30), #14 Kentucky (Feb. 24), #24 Miami (April 12) and #30 Wisconsin (Jan. 25).
Stanford, which has won 12 of the 22 NCAA titles in women’s tennis including each of the last two, is the preseason national No. 1, followed by ’02 runner-up Florida and Georgia. The Bulldogs’ Agata Cioroch is the top-ranked singles player, while Julie Smekodub and Jenny Kuhn of Tulane are No. 1 in doubles.