March 21, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (8-6) won its third straight home match with a 4-3 victory over Iowa on Friday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish, 27th in the most recent national rankings, won the doubles point and registered straight-set victories in three of the first four singles matches finished before the Hawkeyes (3-8) rallied for a pair of points after the outcome was determined. Notre Dame will continue its final homestand of the season on Sunday morning, playing host to #13 William & Mary at 9 a.m.
The Irish jumped out to a 1-0 lead with decisive victories at each of the bottom two doubles positions. Junior Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) and freshman Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) finished first, registering their fifth consecutive victory, an 8-2 win at No. 2. Salas and Connelly are 11-6 overall this season and 8-4 in dual matches. The pair of junior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.) and freshman Jennifer Smith (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg H.S.) clinched the doubles point with an 8-2 triumph at No. 3. Leslie and Smith are 4-2 as a team and have been involved in the clinching decision in four of the last five matches. The Irish appeared to be on their way to an easy sweep until Iowa’s Steffi Hoch and Gloria Okino won seven straight games to rally from a 7-2 deficit for a 9-7 upset victory at No. 1 over the nation’s 27th-ranked team, senior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.) and freshman Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy.
Notre Dame won the first sets in five of six singles matches, but managed just a split of the unpartnered contests. Leslie, ranked 51st in college tennis in singles, was off the court first with a dominating 6-1, 6-0 victory over Cassie Haas at No. 1. Leslie, who has won nine of her last 10, finished her match while four of the other five singles tilts were still in their first sets. The Irish junior, who missed all of last spring with a shoulder injury, is 12-6 overall this season, including 10-4 in dual matches. She is 4-1 since moving into the No. 1 position for the first time in her career on March 1. In her last three matches in the Eck Tennis Pavilion, Leslie has surrendered a total of just five games.
The Irish opened up a 3-0 lead when sophomore Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) finished a 6-1, 6-1 victory against Denitza Alexandrova at No. 5. The win was the third straight for Connelly and improved her record to 16-10 this season.
Iowa got on the board when Hoch gained her second upset of the day, topping #65 Salas 7-5, 6-2 at No. 2.
Stastny registered her fourth clinching win in eight Irish victories this spring by defeating Chelsea Glynn 6-3, 6-4 at No. 4. The Irish freshman has won five of her last seven matches.
After the outcome was determined, Iowa came from behind to grab a pair of additional points. Jennifer Hodgman got a 3-6, 6-2, 1-0 (11-9) win over Lauren Connelly at No. 6 and Okino won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 against Cunha at No. 3.
After dropping back-to-back 4-3 matches in February to Tennessee and Kentucky, the Irish have registered 4-3 victories twice in the last three matches, also topping BYU by that score on March 8 in Provo, Utah.
#27 Notre Dame 4, Iowa 3
No. 1: #51 Caylan Leslie (ND) d. Cassie Haas (I) 6-1, 6-0
No. 2: Steffi Hoch (I) d. #65 Alicia Salas (ND) 7-5, 6-2
No. 3: Gloria Okino (I) d. Katie Cunha (ND) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
No. 4: *Kristina Stastny (ND) d. Chelsea Glynn (I) 6-3, 6-4
No. 5: Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Denitza Alexandrova (I) 6-1, 6-1
No. 6: Jennifer Hodgman (I) d. Lauren Connelly (ND) 3-6, 6-2, 1-0 (11-9)
Order of Finish: 1, 5, 2, 4*, 6, 3
No. 1: Hoch/Okino (I) d. #27 Cunha/Stastny (ND) 9-7
No. 2: L. Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Glynn/Haas (I) 8-2
No. 3: *Leslie/Jennifer Smith (ND) d. Alexandrova/Jenny Schulte (I) 8-2
Order of Finish: 2, 3*, 1