March 30, 2002
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The 23rd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team dropped a narrow 4-3 decision to third-ranked Wake Forest Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Irish split the six singles matches with the Demon Deacons, but the hosts managed to capture two of the three doubles contests, one by an 8-6 count, to secure the deciding point. Saturday’s match was the first of three against top-10 opponents for Notre Dame, all coming in the state of North Carolina.
Irish head coach Jay Louderback juggled his doubles lineup to open the match with Wake Forest, and the strategy nearly paid off. Louderback split up the nation’s No. 30 doubles team of seniors Becky Varnum (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Lindsey Green (El Cajon, Calif.), instead electing to pair Varnum with classmate Nina Vaughan (Corona del Mar, Calif.) in the No. 3 doubles contest. The newly formed Irish twosome rewarded their coach’s move, winning 8-6 over the Demon Deacon tandem of Katie Martzolf and Danielle Schwartz.
After Green and junior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash.) fell 8-1 to the nation’s top-ranked doubles team of Bea Bielik and Janet Bergman at the No. 1 flight, Notre Dame’s hopes for claiming the doubles point rested with the team of freshman Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and sophomore Alicia Salas (Engelwood, Colo.), which had lost just once in 11 previous matches this season. However, the Irish duo dropped a tight 8-6 verdict to Wake Forest’s Karin Coetzee and Aimee Smith, turning the crucial doubles marker over to the hosts.
Wake Forest (16-2) applied additional pressure to the Irish when it won the top two singles matches in convincing fashion. Bielik, the No. 1 player in the country, blanked the 75th-ranked Varnum, 6-0, 6-0, while Bergman, rated 17th in the land, topped the 118th-ranked Vaughan, 6-3, 6-3, giving the Demon Deacons an early three-point edge.
Notre Dame came roaring back with victories at the No. 3 and No. 4 singles flights behind two of their hottest players. Green earned her seventh win in eight matches with a tough 7-5, 7-5 win over Maren Haus in the third singles flight. Six of Green’s seven wins during this recent stretch have come in straight sets. Salas then chalked up a 7-5, 7-6 (7-2) triumph over Martzolf, ranked 81st in the country, at No. 4 singles, improving to a team-best 17-2 in dual match singles play this spring. She is 24-5 overall and has won 20 of her last 22 matches. The win over Martzolf also was Salas’ second over a ranked opponent this season.
Connelly brightened the Irish prospects even further with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Schwartz at No. 6 singles, earning her 20th solo victory of the season. That tied the match at 3-3 and left the outcome with Cunha at the No. 5 flight. But unlike the Illinois match on Wednesday, when the Notre Dame veteran clinched the victory in straight sets, she fell to Coetzee by a 6-0, 6-3 score, denying the Irish the second top-five victory in the program’s history. Previously, Notre Dame defeated fifth-ranked Texas, 5-4 on April 4, 1996, in Austin, Texas.
The Irish (11-8) will return to the courts Monday at 4 p.m. (EDT) when they face No. 4 Duke in Durham, N.C. Notre Dame will wrap up its four-day road trip Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) when it squares off with seventh-ranked North Carolina for the second time this season in Chapel Hill, N.C.
#3 Wake Forest 4, #23 Notre Dame 3
No. 1: #1 Bea Bialik (WF) d. #75 Becky Varnum (ND) 6-0, 6-0
No. 2: #19 Janet Bergman (WF) d. #118 Nina Vaughan (ND) 6-3, 6-3
No. 3: Lindsey Green (ND) d. Maren Haus (WF) 7-5, 7-5
No. 4: Alicia Salas (ND) d. #81 Katie Martzolf (WF) 7-5, 7-6 (7-2)
No. 5: Karin Coetzee (WF) d. Katie Cunha (ND) 6-0, 6-3
No. 6: Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Danielle Schwartz (WF) 6-4, 6-2
No. 1: #1 Bialik/Bergman (WF) d. Cunha/Green (ND) 8-1
No. 2: Coetzee/Aimee Smith (WF) d. Connelly/Salas (ND) 8-6
No. 3: Varnum/Vaughan (ND) d. Martzolf/Schwartz (WF) 8-6
Team Records: #3 Wake Forest (16-2), #23 Notre Dame (11-8)
— ND —