June 1, 2006
Notre Dame senior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), the captain of the Irish women’s tennis team, was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District 5 Second Team in the at-large program by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) last week. She graduated earlier this month from the Mendoza College of Business with a marketing degree – while minoring in theology – sporting a 3.69 cumulative grade-point average.
The women’s at-large program covers 13 different sports, while each school was able to nominate a maximum of three student-athletes. District 5 includes schools in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario. The team was voted on by members of CoSIDA from District 5.
It is the latest in a series of honors for the Irish captain. In April, she was one of five winners of the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the most prestigious accolade awarded to Notre Dame student-athletes. That recognizes senior monogram athletes who have been exemplary as students and leaders. Earlier this month, Connelly was tabbed the Midwest Region recipient of the ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship – which goes to a player who has exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic extracurricular and tennis achievements.
She is a member of Notre Dame’s Academic Honors Program for Student-Athletes and has been tabbed an ITA Scholar-Athlete and BIG EAST Academic All-Star in each of the last three years. Connelly won the Knute Rockne Student-Athlete Award as the team’s top academic performer in both 2004-05 and ’05-’06.
Connelly was a starter throughout her career, concluding it with ownership of several Notre Dame records. In the career record book, she stands first in doubles victories (111-38 record) and doubles-point clinching victories (27), as well as second in doubles dual-match wins (75-22). She turned in one of the best doubles campaigns ever by an Irish player this season, going 37-6 overall and 26-1 in dual matches. All but one of those matches was with fellow senior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), and that duo was 36-6 together (25-1 dual). They set Notre Dame season records for wins by a doubles team, winning percentage by a doubles team (.857), dual-match wins by a doubles team, and winning percentage in dual matches by a doubles team (.952). Individually, Connelly and Stastny now share the Irish record for doubles dual-match wins and tied the mark for overall doubles wins (first done by Becky Varnum in 2000-01).
She played in the bottom half of the singles lineup for most of her career, going 74-50 overall, with 43 of those wins coming in dual play. Connelly put together a 15-match winning streak in doubles and finished her career on a 10-match winning streak in singles. She was ranked as high as 36th in the nation in doubles and was a BIG EAST all-tournament selection in doubles in 2003 and ’05.
In 2005-06, Connelly captained Notre Dame to its best season ever, as the Irish started 16-0 (best-ever start), finished 27-2 (second-most wins ever), and spent eight weeks at an all-time high of #2 in the ITA national rankings en route to finishing a program-best fifth. Notre Dame earned an all-time high seeding of No. 2 in the NCAA Division I Championship and matched its deepest run in the tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals. The Irish finished 4-1 against top-10 teams and 12-2 vs. the top 30. Among Notre Dame’s notable accomplishments were posting its first-ever win over Duke (after having lost the previous 12 meetings) – matching its highest-ranked victory (Duke was #5) in the process – as well as ending a seven-match skid against regional rival Northwestern, and beating Tennessee for the first time since 1998.
It is the second time in the last three years that an Irish women’s tennis player has earned academic all-district honors from CoSIDA, as Alicia Salas did so in 2004.