May 22, 2000

MALIBU, Calif. — Notre Dame junior All-American Michelle Dasso dropped a close three-set singles match but rallied with sophomore Becky Varnum for a three-set doubles match on Monday in the first round of the NCAA singles and doubles championships at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. After Dasso lost to USC’s Jewel Peterson in the singles first round, she and Varnum teamed to edge Oklahoma’s 47th-ranked Viviana Mracnova and Angela Steoup 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3).

The 20th-ranked team of Dasso and Varnum improve to 19-5 on the season with its win over Mracnova and Steoup and 6-1 against ranked opponents. They saved two match points for Oklahoma while serving at 5-6 in the third set. The win sets up a rematch on Tuesday for Dasso with Pepperdine’s Paola Palencia and Ipek Senoglu, who beat Florida’s No. 5-8 seed and 11th-ranked team of Whitney Laiho and Jessica Lenhoff 7-6, 6-3 in the first round. Palencia and Senoglu, ranked sixth in the country but not one of the eight seeded teams in the 32-team field, defeated Dasso and Irish freshman Katie Cunha 8-3 at No. 1 doubles on March 18.

In her NCAA first round singles match, 27th-ranked Dasso fell to USC’s No. 9-16 seed and 17th-ranked Peterson 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. Dasso finishes her season with a 29-8 singles record, the second time in three years she has led the Irish in singles wins. Monday’s first-round pairing was a rematch of the tight 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) match won by Dasso against Peterson at No. 1 singles in Notre Dame’s match against USC in the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 19.

For the third time in her three NCAA singles appearances, Dasso won the first set of a first-round match only to lose in three sets. As a freshman in 1998, Dasso lost 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to William & Mary’s Michelle O and fell 0-6, 7-5, 6-4 to San Diego’s eventual quarterfinalist Katarina Valkyova in the 1999 NCAA first round.