Oct. 21, 2004
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Notre Dame’s Liz Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D./O’Gorman H.S.) won a pair of matches at the Baseline Tennis Center on Thursday to move within one victory of qualifying for the singles main draw of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Championships. The Irish junior will play in the qualifying round on Friday, when the doubles main draw also will get underway.
Donohue opened action in the 64-player qualifying bracket by defeating Purdue senior Lara Burgarello 6-4, 6-4. Despite fighting injuries, she then rallied to defeat Drake’s No. 3 player from last season, Eveline Rusdianto of Indonesia, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. At 8:30 a.m. (CDT) on Friday, Donohue will take on Iowa freshman Milica Veselinovic of Serbia, and the victor in that contest will be one of the eight qualifiers to the 64-player main draw, slated to commence Saturday. It would mark the first appearance in the main draw for Donohue, who had not even participated in qualifying action in her first two seasons.
The Sioux Falls, S.D., native matched her career-high for victories in a season by improving to 7-2 this fall. Her second match of the day was the third time in her career that Donohue had rallied from losing the first set to win the match. She is now 11-5 in her career in indoor matches.
Junior Jennifer Smith (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg H.S.) also competed in qualifying action at the Midwest Championships on Thursday, falling 6-2, 6-1 to Pascale Schnitzer of Chile, who played Nos. 4 and 5 for Michigan State last spring.
Three Notre Dame doubles teams will open action in the Midwest Championships on Friday, which features the first two rounds of play in the 64-team draw. At 2:00 p.m., junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) will take on the Michigan State team of Sarah Andrews and Shelley Brady, after the Irish duo topped Andrews and a different partner by an 8-1 score last week in the Eck Classic. At the same time, Donohue and Smith will face a Purdue team, Hala Sufi and Stephanie Wooten. Another Boilermaker team, Brooke Beier and Shawna Zuccarini, will be the opponents of Irish senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) in a match beginning at 4 p.m. (EST).
Notre Dame’s top doubles team, sophomore twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), will not take part in the tournament, as they have already secured a berth in the 16-team main draw of the second leg of the collegiate grand slam, the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, to which the Midwest Championships victor gains entrance. The Thompsons, ranked seventh in the nation, earned their spot by reaching the final of the first collegiate grand slam event of the season, the ITA All-American Championships.
Donohue will be trying to join six of her teammates – the Connelly sisters, the Thompson twins, Stastny, and Buck – in the main draw of the singles bracket.
The ITA Midwest Championships is an indoor singles and doubles tournament for the top players in the Midwest Region – which consists of every Big Ten Conference team but Penn State, as well as other area schools. It is one of eight regional tournaments taking place across the country this month. The event consists of main draws of 64 in both singles and doubles, with eight spots in singles reserved for winners of a 64-player qualifying bracket. The singles finalists and doubles champions earn automatic entry into the second leg of the collegiate grand slam, the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, slated for Nov. 4-7 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
ITA Midwest Championships
Singles Qualifying – First Round
Pascale Schnitzer (Michigan State) def. Jennifer Smith (Notre Dame) 6-2, 6-1
Liz Donohue (ND) def. Lara Burgarello (Purdue) 6-4, 6-4
Singles Qualifying – Round of 16
Donohue (ND) def. Eveline Rusdianto (Drake) 1-6, 6-2, 6-3