January 26, 1999

* Irish blank DePaul, drop tight 5-4 match to #15 Pepperdine in Minnesota
* Putman’s Jennifer Hall returns home to Oklahoma City, Okla., this weekend
* Irish singles lineup strong, winning 10 of 12 singles matches

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The 16th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team heads to Oklahoma City, Okla., and the Woodlake Racket Club to take on Kansas State and Oklahoma this weekend. The Irish opened their 1999 dual-match season and split a pair of matches at the Federated Insurance Court Classic, beating DePaul 9-0 and losing to Pepperdine 5-4.

THIS WEEK FOR THE IRISH: Notre Dame travels to the hometown of senior captain Jennifer Hall (Oklahoma City, Okla.) this weekend to take on a pair of Big 12 Conference opponents in Kansas State and Oklahoma at the Woodlake Racket Club. The Irish will take on Kansas State on Sat., Jan. 30, at 2:00 p.m., and Oklahoma on Sun., Jan. 31, at 10:00 a.m. Ranked 58th in the country, Kansas State dropped three matches at the Arizona Invitational this past weekend to start the season 0-3 following losses to Arizona, Mississippi and San Diego. Sophomore Martina Pospisilova leads the Wildcats and is ranked 73rd nationally. The Irish have won all six meetings with the Wildcats with the last win coming in 1996.

The 45th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will play their first dual match of the season on Sunday against the Irish. Sophomore Vivjana Mracnova enters the match ranked 66th while senior Raluca Gheorghe is tied for 100th. The team Mracnova and senior Danielle Knipp hold a No. 21 ranking in doubles after entering the fall unranked. Notre Dame is 3-0 all-time against Oklahoma and last played the Sooners in 1997.

WEEK IN REVIEW: The Irish opened its 1999 dual-match season with a 7-0 win over DePaul at the Federated Insurance Court Classic on Friday at the University of Minnesota. The Irish did not drop a set in the match as sophomore Michelle Dasso (Long Grove, Ill.), seniors Jennifer Hall and Marisa Velasco (Chula Vista, Calif.), freshman Becky Varnum (Colorado Springs, Colo.), junior Kelly Zalinski (Greer, S.C.) and freshman Lindsey Green (El Cajon, Calif.) all won singles matches in straight sets. Dasso and Hall won at No. 1 doubles, Varnum and Velasco won at No. 2 doubles and freshman Nina Vaughan (Corona del Mar, Calif.) and Zalinski won at No. 3 doubles to complete Notre Dame’s sweep.

Notre Dame lost a tight 5-4 match to 15th-ranked Pepperdine in Saturday’s final. The Irish won the first four singles matches to take a 4-0 lead but the Waves won a pair of three-set singles matches and then swept the doubles to complete the 5-4 win.

Michelle Dasso beat Pepperdine’s Angela Lawrence 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 singles, and Jennifer Hall beat Ipek Senoglu 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 at No. 2 singles. Becky Varnum and Kelly Zalinski won in straight sets at Nos. 4 and 5 singles for Notre Dame’s four wins.

Pepperdine rallied for three-set wins at No. 3 and 6 singles and won all three doubles matches. Lawrence and Senoglu edged Dasso and Hall 9-8 (8-6) at No. 1 doubles in the last match on the court to clinch the win for the Waves.

HALL HOMECOMING SET: The Irish women’s tennis team face Kansas State and Oklahoma this week in Oklahoma City, Okla., the hometown of senior two-time All-American Jennifer Hall. The teams will compete at the Woodlake Racket Club, where the former Putnam High School standout learned the game. Hall amassed a 109-1 high school record at Putnam and won three state championships. She will lead the Irish against Kansas State on Sat., Jan. 30, at 2:00 p.m., and against Oklahoma on Sun., Jan. 31., at 10:00 a.m.

IRISH CONTINUE MIDWEST DOMINANCE: The win over DePaul extended Notre Dame’s winning streak to 11 matches against Midwest regional opponents, dating back to a loss to Wisconsin in the 1997 NCAA Midwest Regional. The Irish have rolled through their regional foes, building a 32-4 record against other Midwest region teams since the ’95 season, including 25 wins against Big 10 teams.

ITA RANKINGS: The Irish currently are 16th among the 75 teams ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association after finishing 1998 ranked 19th. Dasso, Varnum and Hall are ranked in the latest rankings released by the ITA on Dec. 8, 1998. Dasso is ranked 23rd after a preseason spot of 17, while Hall is ranked 100. Varnum entered the rankings for the first time after an impressive fall season and is tied for 51st place in the rankings.

Notre Dame also has two doubles teams ranked among the top 50 doubles teams. The duo of Vaughan and Zalinski teamed up for the first time this fall and entered the rankings at No. 37. Dasso and Hall are just behind at No. 39. Notre Dame is one of nine schools to have at least three singles players among the 100 ranked players and one of just seven to have at least two doubles teams among the 50 ranked teams.

IRISH FACE TOUGH SLATE: The Irish, who finished 20-10 a year ago, will play 16 matches against teams ranked in the top 50 and 20 matches against all ranked teams and will welcome nine ranked teams to Notre Dame, including second-ranked Duke. BYU, Duke, Wake Forest and William & Mary, four of the 16 teams that came to Courtney Tennis Center for the 1998 NCAA championships, return to Notre Dame to face to the Irish this year.

FRESHMEN SPARK IRISH: Notre Dame’s freshman class of Berica Day, Lindsey Green, Becky Varnum and Nina Vaughan combined for a 38-22 record during an impressive fall season. Green, Varnum and Vaughan all saw action in Notre Dame’s two matches this past weekend, the biggest immediate contributions for a freshman class since the 1993 freshman class of Wendy Crabtree, Holyn Lord and Sherri Vitale all played in the singles or doubles lineup in their first dual match.

HEAD COACH JAY LOUDERBACK: Jay Louderback is in his 10th year as head coach of the Irish, compiling a 155-83 (.651) record at Notre Dame and a career mark of 359-261 (.579) in 19-plus seasons of coaching. He has guided the Irish to NCAA championship appearances in five of the last six years, including a national quarterfinal appearance in 1996. His teams have finished among the top 20 teams in the country in four of the last six years and in the top 30 in all but two of his years at Notre Dame. The Arkansas City, Kan., native, and 1976 graduate of Wichita State has been named the ITA regional coach of the year twice in 1995 and 1998 and was named BIG EAST coach of the year after leading the Irish to BIG EAST championship titles in 1996 and 1997. His Notre Dame players have won All-America honors seven times in his nine years.

DASSO TO COMPETE AT THIRD GRAND SLAM: Michelle Dasso, a quarterfinalist and consolation semifinalist at the first two legs of the ITA collegiate grand slam, will travel to the Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas, Texas, Feb. 4-7, for the 22nd annual Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor championship, the third leg of the grand slam. She lost to William & Mary’s Lauren Nikolaus in a three-set, first-round match a year ago at the Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor championship, the first grand slam event of her career.

FALL REVIEW: Members of the Notre Dame women’s tennis team played in six tournaments in the fall and won six singles and doubles flights. Freshman Becky Varnum led the Irish in wins in the fall with 13 against just five losses. She advanced to the final of her first collegiate tournament at the Eck Classic before losing a three-set match to Marquette’s 26th-ranked Elisa Penalvo. Varnum advanced to the final of the No. 1 flight at the Buckeye Invitational and to the semifinals of the ITA Midwest Region championship before dropping a 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 match to Danielle Lund of Michigan.

Michelle Dasso played in three tournaments in the fall and advanced to quarterfinals of the T. Rowe Price National Clay Court Championships, the first leg of the ITA collegiate grand slam. At the second grand slam, she reached the semifinals of the Riviera All-American Championships consolations after a dropping her first round match to top-seeded Vanessa Webb of Duke. She won two matches before losing a three-set match to Marquette’s eventual champion Ana Fernandez at the ITA Midwest Region championship. She finished with a 6-4 fall record with two of her six wins against top 20 players, including a win over seventh-ranked Julie Ditty of Vanderbilt, and with all four losses coming to players ranked above her in the latest rankings.

Jennifer Hall played in four tournaments and compiled a 5-6 record against some of the top players in the country. Kelly Zalinski won No. 2 singles at the Buckeye Invitational, advanced to the consolation semifinals at the ITA Midwest Region championship and finished the fall with a 12-5 record. Kimberly Guy went 9-6 in the fall with a win over Sarah Scaringe in the final of her singles flight at the Wolverine Invitational.

Lindsey Green posted an 11-4 record and two losses to ranked players to begin her collegiate career. She won four matches to claim the No. 3 singles flight at the Buckeye Invitational. Green qualified for the ITA Midwest Region championship and advanced to the second round before losing to third-seeded Barbara Urbanska of Wisconsin 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. Nina Vaughan went 10-5 with a win at No. 4 singles at the Buckeye Invitational.

The doubles pair of Vaughan and Zalinski went 6-3 in the fall to earn a national ranking of 37 with wins over eighth-ranked Brooke Hart and Danielle Lund of Michigan and 30th-ranked Jennifer Embry and Missy Wright of Purdue. The duo also advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITA Midwest Region championship. Green and Sarah Scaringe (Marietta, Ga.) won the Eck Classic Blue Flight title and reached the quarterfinals of the ITA Midwest Region championship, beating 28th-ranked Shera Wielger and Erin Wolverton in the second round before losing to eventual champions and seventh-ranked Ana Fernandez and Elisa Penalvo of Marquette. The team of Dasso and Hall entered the fall ranked 18th in the country and advanced to the semifinals of the Riviera All-American championships qualifying and the semifinals of the ITA Midwest Regional championships.