Dec. 10, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A pair of Notre Dame singles players, as well as an Irish doubles team, are listed in the women’s tennis midwest region rankings, announced today by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Junior Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.), listed 86th in the preseason national rankings, came in 12th in the singles listing, while freshman Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) was 21st. In doubles, senior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.) and first-year player Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) are 15th. The team and individual national rankings will be released on Jan. 13 and the Irish will open their spring season on Wednesday, Jan. 22 vs. Western Michigan at 4:00 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Salas, who was ranked 17th in the region at the end of last season, was 11-4 this fall, notching two wins over ranked opponents. She reached the final in the OSU/Prince Cup and captured the Eck Classic title and will enter the spring season having won seven of her last eight matches. One of her victories this fall was a three-set triumph in the adidas Invitational over Northwestern’s Christelle Grier, who is listed as the top singles player in the region. 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.
Connelly had an outstanding first collegiate semester, posting an 8-5 singles mark and knocking off two players ranked in the national top 70. She is the third-highest ranked freshman in the regional rankings, behind Grier (first) and another Wildcat, Jamie Piesel (fifth). Connelly was the runner-up in the blue flight of the Eck Classic, losing to Salas in the final. In the adidas Invitational, she defeated Northwestern’s Jessica Rush, who is ranked fourth in the region, in straight sets. Connelly joined the Irish this fall after winning four individual and four team state titles at Bishop McGuinness High School in Oklahoma City, compiling a 76-0 record.
Cunha and Stastny teamed up for the latter half of the fall season, posting a 5-2 record. The pair reached the round of 16 in the Omni Hotels Midwest Championships and were the runners-up in the Eck Classic. Cunha and 2002 graduate Lindsey Green were ranked second in the region in doubles at the end of last season.
Northwestern, which finished 2001-02 ranked No. 1 in the midwest region, advanced four players to the semifinals of the Omni Hotels Midwest Championships in October and each of those competitors is listed in the top five of the regional singles rankings. Grier, who won the tournament, and Marine Piriou hold the top two spots, while Rush and Piesel are fourth and fifth, respectively. Illinois’ Jennifer McGaffigan is No. 3.
McGaffigan and Webb, who won the doubles title in the Midwest Championships, are listed first in doubles, followed by Piriou and Rush and Linda Tran and Karie Schlukebir of Indiana at No. 3. Illinois State’s Liina Suurvarik and Alesia Mikalayava and Purdue’s Brittany Reitz and Lara Burgarello are tied for fourth.
Notre Dame will play host to Purdue on March 26 and is slated for road matches against Northwestern (Jan. 30), Illinois (April 2) and Indiana (April 3).