Sarah Jane Connelly's O'Connor Award marks the seventh consecutive year that the women's tennis program has produced either a Kanaley or O'Connor winner.

Irish Earn Top Seed In BIG EAST Championship For Ninth Time In 10 Years

April 18, 2005

For the ninth time in 10 years in the league, the University of Notre Dame (12-9, 1-0 BIG EAST) has earned the No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST Conference Women’s Tennis Championship, slated for this Thursday-Saturday, April 21-23, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The Irish, ranked 26th in the nation, gained a bye in the first round and will be in action in the semifinals on Friday at 9 a.m. (EDT) against either fourth-seeded St. John’s (7-3, 3-2) or fifth-seeded West Virginia (15-6, 6-2). The final is set for Saturday at Noon (EDT).

The Red Storm and Mountaineers will play in the first round on Thursday at 9 a.m., while third-seeded Syracuse (12-7, 5-1) and sixth-seeded Seton Hall (13-5, 7-2) will face off at Noon. The winner of the latter contest will take on second-seeded Boston College (11-8, 3-1) on Friday at Noon.

Notre Dame has reached the final of the BIG EAST tournament in all nine years since becoming a conference member in 1995-96, winning championships in 1996, ’97, ’99, 2001, and ’03.

A year ago, the Irish fell to Miami 4-0 in the title match after topping Virginia Tech by the same score in the semifinals. Both the Hurricanes and Hokies are now members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Boston College was the third-place finisher in 2004, while Syracuse was fifth, and Rutgers ended up sixth.

All 12 members of the BIG EAST Conference field teams in women’s tennis, but the league does not require round-robin competition during the season. The top six teams, as selected by the conference based on national ranking and head-to-head results, earned invitations to the league championship, a single-elimination team tournament with the top two seeds receiving byes and the winner gaining the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Championship, which begins on campus sites May 13-15.

Notre Dame played just one BIG EAST member during the regular season, prevailing 7-0 at Boston College on Feb. 13. The Eagles were ranked 60th at the time of that match after peaking at 58th, but they then fell out of the national top 75 later in February and have since been unranked. In fact, the Irish are the only nationally-ranked squad in the conference, meaning they will be trying to extend a 60-match winning streak against unranked teams that dates back to 1994 (7-2 loss to Northwestern on Feb. 20). Notre Dame holds a 22-0 all-time record against current members of the BIG EAST.