Feb. 14, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Senior captain Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.) and freshman Kristna Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) each claimed a pair of individual victories for Notre Dame as the 21st-ranked Irish women’s tennis team toppled No. 71 Virginia Tech, 6-1, Friday afternoon at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The win snapped a two-match losing streak for the Irish and also broke the Hokies’ season-opening nine-match winning streak.
Virginia Tech (9-1) set Notre Dame back on its heels early by earning the doubles point. Felice Lam and Zdenka Videnova registered an 8-6 win at No. 3, but the Irish appeared to have matters in hand at the other two doubles flights. However, the Hokies’ No. 2 team of Kristen Stubbs and Ginger Lowdermilk rallied from a 5-2 deficit, winning six of the last seven games to put the opening point in their team’s column. Cunha and Stastny blunted some of Virginia Tech’s momentum with an 8-6 victory in the No. 1 doubles match.
“I was a little disappointed we were up in that second doubles match and let them off the hook,” Notre Dame head coach Jay Louderback said. “They play doubles very well and all three matches were extremely tight.”
Notre Dame (3-2) roared back with a vengeance in the singles competition, winning all six matches in straight sets. Junior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.) kicked off the Irish charge with a convincing 6-1, 6-2 win at the No. 2 position. Moments later, Cunha, who was making her first start in singles this season, finished off Lowdermilk at the No. 4 flight by a 6-3, 6-0 count. Freshman Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) then pushed Notre Dame to the brink of victory with a 6-2, 6-3 conquest of Videnova at the No. 5 spot. That win was especially significant, considering Videnova had been 19-2 in singles competition this season entering Friday’s match.
Stastny closed out the victory for the Irish, coming back from one-game deficits in both sets to defeat Virginia Tech’s Elissa Kinard, 6-4, 6-2. Notre Dame had to work hard for its final two points, but came away successful in both instances. Junior Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek, H.S.), ranked No. 124 in the nation, was forced into a second-set tiebreaker, but ousted Stubbs, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3). Meanwhile, sophomore Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) rallied from a second-set deficit to beat Lam, 6-2, 7-5.
“The first sets in singles really were the key for us today,” Louderback said. “We played really well right off the bat, and that took away a lot of the momentum they had generated from winning the doubles point. I thought it was also good for us to finish strong and close out those tight matches once we had secured the team win.
“Katie (Cunha) has been playing well in doubles lately and we were just waiting for her to be mentally ready to play singles,” Louderback added. “We decided to give her a shot in singles and she came out and performed tremendously.”
Notre Dame will return to action Sunday at 10 a.m. (EST) when it plays host to Boston College at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Eagles will face Virginia Tech Saturday at 1 p.m. (EST), also at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
— ND —
#21 NOTRE DAME 6, #71 Virginia Tech 1
No. 1: #124 Alicia Salas (ND) d. Kristen Stubbs (VT), 6-1, 7-6 (7-3)
No. 2: Caylan Leslie (ND) d. Carolyn Kramer (VT), 6-1, 6-2
No. 3: Kristina Stastny (ND) d. Elissa Kinard (VT), 6-4, 6-2
No. 4: Katie Cunha (ND) d. Ginger Lowdermilk (VT), 6-3, 6-0
No. 5: Lauren Connelly (ND) d. Zdenka Videnova (VT), 6-2, 6-3
No. 6: Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Felice Lam (VT), 6-2, 7-5
*Kelly Nelson (ND) d. Carolina Rodriguez (VT), 8-1
*exhibition — result not included in final team score
Order of finish: 2, 4, 5, 3, 1, 6
No. 1: Cunha/Stastny (ND) d. Kinard/Kramer (VT), 8-6
No. 2: Lowdermilk/Stubbs (VT) d. Leslie/Salas (ND), 8-6
No. 3: Lam/Videnova (VT) d. S.J. Connelly/Jennifer Smith (ND), 8-6
Order of finish: 3, 2, 1