Feb. 21, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team registered a few impressive upsets, but eventually fell short against No. 1 Duke, falling 5-2 Friday evening in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Blue Devils (9-0) won the doubles point and four of six singles matches to win in their first-ever match as the nation’s top team. Irish senior captain Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.) picked up victories over ranked players in singles and doubles, while junior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.) topped the 15th-ranked singles player in the nation. Notre Dame (4-3), which was playing host to the No. 1 team for the first time in school history, will continue a four-day stretch featuring three top-25 teams as it heads to #11 Tennessee for a Sunday afternoon match.
Leslie delivered her third singles win over a ranked player this spring with a 6-2, 7-5 win against #15 Amanda Johnson at No. 2. The Duke junior, a two-time All-American, had been 5-1 this spring at No. 2. After missing 14 months due to a shoulder injury, Leslie is 4-3 this spring at No. 2 and has won three straight matches. She became the first Irish player to upset a top-15 player since Becky Varnum topped 15th-ranked Jewel Peterson 6-1, 6-3 on Oct. 19, 2001.
Cunha’s first upset of the day was in doubles, as she and freshman Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) rallied from a 5-4 deficit to win four straight games for an 8-5 win over the 13th-ranked pair of Kelly McCain and Hillary Adams at No. 1. McCain and Adams earned All-America honors a year ago, advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship. The win was the second for Cunha and Stastny over a top-20 team this month. The Irish pair rallied for an 8-6 win over #19 Kendrick Bunn and Kate Pinchbeck of North Carolina on Feb. 1. McCain and Adams were the highest-ranked team to lose to a Notre Dame pair since Feb. 17, 2001, when Varnum and Michelle Dasso upset the No. 1 team of Paola Palencia and Ipek Senoglu of Pepperdine 8-5. The win was the seventh of Cunha’s career over a ranked doubles team.
In singles, the Irish captain delivered the second win of her career over a ranked player with a 7-6 (9-7), 2-6, 1-0 (10-4) victory over 36th-ranked Julie DeRoo. Cunha was playing No. 3 singles for the first time in her career. After not playing singles in the first four dual matches of the season, she has won three consecutive contests.
The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead with wins at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles. DeRoo and Johnson, ranked 11th, improved to 15-3 overall and 7-1 this spring with an 8-2 win at No. 2. Katie Granson and Julia Smith, the 49th-ranked squad in the nation, clinched the doubles point, rallying from a 4-3 deficit to win five straight games for an 8-4 triumph. The Blue Devil pair is 18-3 this season, including 9-0 in dual matches. After the point was determined, Cunha and Stastny got their win.
In singles, senior All-American Kelly McCain, the nation’s No. 2 player, improved to 15-1 by winning her seventh straight match with a 6-3, 6-2 win over 124th-ranked Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) at No. 1.
Senior Prim Siripipat put the Blue Devils within a point of victory with a 6-4, 6-0 win over another sophomore, Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), at No. 6.
Senior Katie Granson, 98th nationally in singles, completed Duke’s 10th victory in as many meetings against the Irish with a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 3 vs. Stastny. Granson is 8-0 this spring.
After the outcome was determined, Leslie put the Irish on the board before sophomore Saras Arasu, ranked 43rd, rallied to down Irish first-year player Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6) at No. 5.
The Irish are now 0-7 against top-ranked teams since 1994.
Notre Dame will play a top-20 team for the fourth time this season on Sunday in Knoxville. The Irish are winless in six previous matches at Tennessee. Fans will be able to follow the match via live scoring updates, available at www.utladyvols.com.
#1 Duke 5, #19 Notre Dame 2
No. 1: #2 Kelly McCain (D) d. #124 Alicia Salas (ND) 6-3, 6-2
No. 2: Caylan Leslie (ND) d. #15 Amanda Johnson (D) 6-2, 7-5
No. 3: Katie Cunha (ND) d. #36 Julie DeRoo (D) 7-6 (9-7), 2-6, 1-0 (10-4)
No. 4: #98 Katie Granson (D) d. Kristina Stastny (ND) 6-3, 6-3
No. 5: #43 Saras Arasu (D) d. Lauren Connelly (ND) 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6)
No. 6: Prim Siripipat (D) d. Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) 6-4, 6-0
No. 1: Cunha/Stastny (ND) d. #13 Hillary Adams/McCain (D) 8-5
No. 2: #11 DeRoo/Johnson (D) d. L. Connelly/Salas (ND) 8-2
No. 3: #49 Granson/Smith (D) d. S.J. Connelly/Smith (ND) 8-4