April 6, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 23rd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team fell just short of an upset victory, falling 4-3 to No. 19 Northwestern Saturday morning in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. With the match tied 3-3, Ruth Barnes won five straight games after trailing 2-1 in the third set to defeat Irish freshman Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla.) 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 at No. 6. Notre Dame won the doubles point, but the Wildcats rebounded to capture four of six singles matches to improve to 13-5 this season. The Irish will return to action Sunday at Noon when they play host to 27th-ranked Miami in the final home match of the season. It will also be the first-ever “Ace for the Cure,” a benefit match for colon cancer (details at end of release).
The Irish put together a valiant comeback attempt in singles after Northwestern captured the first sets in five of the six matches. With the team trailing 3-2, senior Lindsey Green (El Cajon, Calif.) provided a comeback win at No. 3 singles over 67th-ranked Jessica Rush 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. Connelly also rebounded from losing the opening frame to force a third set and give the Irish a chance for victory.
Notre Dame fell to 11-11 this season, though eight of their losses have come to teams currently ranked in the national top 20. Northwestern has won eight of their last nine matches.
Irish victories at Nos. 1 and 3 doubles denied Northwestern the doubles point for just the fourth time this season. Green and junior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash.), who were paired together for the first time in their careers last weekend, delivered an impressive 8-2 win at No. 1 over Rush and Marine Piriou, the 35th-ranked squad in the nation. Lia Jackson and Simona Petrutiu responded with an 8-3 victory at No. 2. In the deciding match, Connelly and sophomore Alicia Salas (Engelwood, Colo.) came through with an 8-5 win at No. 3. It marked first time Notre Dame captured the doubles point since head coach Jay Louderback juggled his doubles lineup last weekend.
Northwestern grabbed victories in the top two and bottom two singles matches to secure the win. Piriou, ranked 25th nationally in singles, evened the match with a 7-5, 6-2 win at No. 1, but Salas again put the Irish ahead when she turned in a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 triumph at No. 4. Andrea Yung won 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5 and then Lia Jackson notched a 6-3, 7-5 victory at No. 2 to put the Wildcats within a point of victory. Green tied the match at 3-3 with her sixth win over a ranked opponent this season before Barnes delivered the clinching victory.
Salas improved to 20-2 this spring and 27-5 overall in 2001-02. She has won 23 of her last 25 matches.
Saturday’s match marked the second year in a row the Wildcats rallied to defeat the Irish by a score of 4-3. Last season, Notre Dame led 3-1 before Northwestern got three-set wins in each of the final matches on-court.
Sunday’s Notre Dame-Miami match will be the first-ever “Ace For The Cure” — a special match-up designed to increase awareness among the Michiana community as to the deadly threat of colon cancer. Inspired and conceived by Irish junior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash.), whose family has been afflicted by this disease, the match will serve as a fund raiser with all proceeds going to benefit ongoing colon cancer research. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and students (college age and under), and they may be purchased at the Joyce Center Ticket Office (call 574-631-7356) or the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
#19 Northwestern 4, #23 Notre Dame 3
No. 1: #25 Marine Piriou (N) d. #86 Becky Varnum (ND) 7-5, 6-2
No. 2: Lia Jackson (N) d. #121 Nina Vaughan (ND) 6-3, 7-5
No. 3: Lindsey Green (ND) d. #67 Jessica Rush (N) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
No. 4: Alicia Salas (ND) d. Simona Petrutiu (N) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
No. 5: Andrea Yung (N) d. Katie Cunha (ND) 6-3, 6-4
No. 6: Ruth Barnes (N) d. Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
No. 1: Cunha/Green (ND) d. #35 Piriou/Rush (N) 8-2
No. 2: #22 Jackson/Petrutiu (N) d. Varnum/Vaughan (ND) 8-3
No. 3: Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Barnes/Yung (N) 8-5