March 18, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 21st-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (8-4) snapped a three-match losing streak by defeating #47 Iowa 6-1 Thursday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish won the doubles point and the first four singles matches off the court to build a 5-0 lead en route to the victory. Notre Dame is unbeaten in nine all-time regular-season meetings with the Hawkeyes (8-3).
Notre Dame resumed its doubles success by taking the bottom two matches and dropping the No. 1 contest in a tiebreaker. Senior co-captain Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) and sophomore Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) snapped a four-match losing streak with an 8-2 victory against Chelsea Glynn and Russian Anastasia Zhukova at No. 2.
Junior Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) put the Irish ahead 1-0 by topping Bulgarian Deni Alexandrova and Hilary Tyler 8-6 at No. 3. The Hawkeyes were up a service break for most of the match before the Notre Dame team got back to even and, at 6-6, notched a break and served out the contest. Alexandrova and Tyler had been 4-0 prior to Thursday.
At No. 1, freshmen Meg Racette and Hillary Mintz upset the nation’s 37th-ranked team, Irish freshman twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), 9-8 (7-5). The Iowa team had a break in hand much of the match and served for it at 8-7, but the Notre Dame pair came back to force a tiebreaker and took a 5-2 lead in it before Racette and Mintz won five straight points to get the victory. The Iowa team improved to 13-5 overall and 8-3 in dual matches at No. 1. The Thompsons, 16-10 on the season, dropped to 0-4 in tiebreakers.
The Irish are 8-0 when winning the doubles point this season and 0-4 when dropping it.
Salas continued her torrid play by putting Notre Dame up 2-0 via a 6-4, 6-1 win over Racette at No. 1 singles. The Irish senior, ranked 13th nationally, has won six in a row and is 22-8 this season, including 10-2 in dual matches at No. 1. Salas is 11-1 against Midwest Region opponents, including 6-0 this spring after losing in the final of last fall’s ITA Midwest Championships to #4 Cristelle Grier of Northwestern. Racette was 16-4 heading into Thursday, including 7-3 at No. 1.
The win improved Salas’ career singles record to 93-33 (.738) and moved her into a tie for 12th place on the Irish list for career wins. Her winning percentage ranks ninth. She holds a 50-15 (.769) record in dual-match play.
Salas has not lost in nearly a year at home, winning nine in a row (7-0 this season) since losing 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to #82 Megan Muth of William & Mary on March 23, 2003. In her career, Salas is 38-7 (.844) at home in singles action.
Stastny put Notre Dame within a point of victory by topping Alexandrova 6-3, 6-2 at No. 5. She has won five of her last seven matches.
Christian Thompson clinched the Irish victory by coming back to beat Mintz 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2. Thompson snapped a four-match skid and had dropped her last three three-setters coming into Thursday. Mintz was 20-5 on the season and 8-2 in dual matches at No. 2.
Soon after the outcome of the team match was determined, sophomore Liz Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D./O’Gorman H.S.), playing in her first career dual match, completed a rally with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Tyler at No. 6. Donohue lost her final three matches of the fall season, including dropping the last two in three-set decisions. Tyler was 5-0 this spring heading into Thursday.
Glynn put the Hawkeyes on the board with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Lauren Connelly at No. 4.
In the final match remaining, 84th-ranked Catrina Thompson beat Zhukova 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) at No. 3. Thompson stopped a three-match losing streak and registered her first triumph since moving into the national rankings on March 9. She is 8-0 in Notre Dame’s wins this spring and 0-4 in its losses.
The Irish have won 16 in a row against teams not ranked among the nation’s top 40, dating back to a 5-2 loss at #51 Purdue on March 21, 2002. Notre Dame has won 20 in a row at home against teams not ranked among the nation’s top 20, dating back to a 5-2 loss to #40 Indiana on Feb. 3, 2002.
Notre Dame will have a little more than a week off before returning to the courts for a pair of road matches. The Irish will be at #38 Wake Forest next Saturday, March 27, for a 1 p.m. (EST) contest before playing the following day at #7 North Carolina at the same time.
#21 Notre Dame 6, #47 Iowa 1
No. 1: #13 Alicia Salas (ND) d. Meg Racette (I) 6-4, 6-1
No. 2: *Christian Thompson (ND) d. Hillary Mintz (I) 2-6, 6-2, 6-2
No. 3: #84 Catrina Thompson (ND) d. Chelsea Glynn (I) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)
No. 4: Anastasia Zhukova (I) d. Lauren Connelly (ND) 7-5, 7-5
No. 5: Kristina Stastny (ND) d. Deni Alexandrova (I) 6-3, 6-2
No. 6: Liz Donohue (ND) d. Hilary Tyler (I) 2-6, 6-1, 6-3
Order of Finish: 1, 5, 2*, 6, 4, 3
No. 1: Racette/Mintz (I) d. #37 Thompson/Thompson (ND) 9-8 (7-5)
No. 2: L. Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Zhukova/Glynn (I) 8-2
No. 3: *S.J. Connelly/Stastny (ND) d. Alexandrova/Tyler (I) 8-6
Order of Finish: 2, 3*, 1
* denotes clinching win; ! denotes clinching win in final match on-court