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No. 20 Irish Welcome No. 26 Indiana For Sunday Showdown

Feb. 28, 2004

The 20th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (6-1) will try to close out an unbeaten month of February when it welcomes #26 Indiana (5-2) on Sunday for a 10 a.m. (EST) match in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish have won six consecutive matches this season and seven of the last eight against the Hoosiers. Notre Dame is 2-0 against top-30 teams in 2004, with previous wins over #14 VCU and #20 BYU.

LAST TIME ON THE COURTS: The Irish recorded their second win over a top-20 team this season with a 6-1 victory over No. 20 Brigham Young on February 20 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame won two of three doubles matches and five of six singles matches to snap the Cougars’ four-match winning streak. Senior co-captain Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) delivered the clinching win for the Irish, with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over #43 Barbora Zahnova at No. 1 singles. It was the 10th win over a ranked opponent for Salas this year and the 17th in her career.

IRISH vs. HOOSIERS: Indiana has risen 49 spots from its preseason ranking of 75th to its current listing, 26th. The Hoosiers come into Notre Dame with a 6-2 record. Indiana already has a pair of top-15 upsets to its credit, having topped #10 Tennessee and #12 Kentucky. The Hoosiers upset the Lady Vols 4-3 on Jan. 24, winning four in singles, including three-set decision at Nos. 1 and 3. Against Kentucky last Sunday, the Hoosiers dropped the doubles point, but then won five in singles (every match but No. 4), including victories in the only two three-setters, at Nos. 3 and 5, to win 5-2. Indiana’s losses came to #19 Arizona State (5-2) and #10 Duke (6-1). The Hoosiers also have wins against Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Pacific, and Marquette.

Indiana has one singles player — junior Dora Vastag — and two doubles teams in the national rankings. Vastag is 10-4 and is ranked 30th. She has wins over #19 Aibika Kalsarieva of Kentucky and #27 Tammy Encina of Tennessee in dual-match play. Vastag reached the quarters of last fall’s ITA Midwest Championships. Senior Martina Grimm of Germany and Sarah Batty of England, the Hoosiers’ No. 2 team, are ranked 44th in doubles with a 6-3 record, highlighted by a fall upset of Jennifer McGaffigan and Cynthia Goulet of Illinois, currently ranked seventh. The top Indiana doubles team, seniors Karie Schlukebir and Linda Tran, are ranked 45th with a 17-5 record. They began the fall 11-0 en route to reaching the semifinals of the Midwest Championships.

The Hoosiers returned five starters from last year’s team that was 9-17 and finished 10th in the Big Ten Conference (1-10, tournament first round).

Lin Loring is in his 27th year leading the Indiana program, having compiled a 592-196 (.751) record. In his 30th year as a head coach, he holds a 634-213 (.749) record, leading all active Division I coaches in career victories.

The Irish and Hoosiers will meet for the 16th consecutive season and 18th time overall. Indiana leads the series 10-7, but the Irish have won seven of the last eight contests. The Hoosiers won the initial meeting 9-0 in 1985 en route to nine consecutive victories over Notre Dame. The first-ever Irish win was a 7-0 triumph in 1996. Since then, the only IU victory was a 5-2 decision at Notre Dame in 2002. This year’s team will be the highest-ranked Indiana team to face the Irish since 1995. The Irish are 3-4 at home against the Hoosiers.

On April 3, 2003, #27 Notre Dame beat Indiana 6-1 in Bloomington. The Irish won the doubles point and all but one singles contest. The lone Hoosiers point came point from Batty at No. 2. Notre Dame got a pair of match tiebreaker victories, at Nos. 3 and 4, but dropped just a combined four games in the Nos. 1, 5, and 6 matches.