April 12, 2003
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The 24th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team suffered just its third loss in its last 12 matches, falling at No. 25 Miami, 6-1, on Saturday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both squads at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes won all three doubles matches and the bottom five singles matches to secure the win, along with the inside track for the top seed in the 2003 BIG EAST Championships, which begin April 25 at Miami.
Notre Dame junior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.) provided the lone bright spot for the Irish, registering her ninth win over a ranked opponent this season. The 39th-ranked Leslie rallied from a one-set deficit to topple the nation’s No. 121 player, UM’s Megan Bradley, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, at the No. 1 flight. With the win, Leslie improves to 17-8 this season (15-6 in dual matches) and 3-1 in three-set matches.
Miami (15-5) quickly jumped ahead in Saturday’s match, winning the three doubles contests by scores of 8-2, 8-5 and 8-5. The Hurricanes then claimed the first three singles matches off the court to clinch the victory. UM freshman Melissa Applebaum, ranked 91st in the country, started the run with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Irish junior Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.), the No. 87 player, at the No. 2 position. The Miami lead grew again when Staci Stevens fought through a tough first set to defeat Notre Dame freshman Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) at No. 4, 7-5, 6-1. Mari Toro sealed the Hurricanes’ win with her triumph at the No. 3 flight over Irish senior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.), 7-6 (9-7), 6-1.
After Leslie’s win, Notre Dame (13-8) had a chance to earn additional points at the bottom two singles positions, taking both matches to third sets. However, sophomore Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) could not complete her comeback from a one-set deficit at No. 5, falling 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 to UM’s Sihem Bennacer. The loss snapped Connelly’s nine-match winning streak that dated back more than six weeks. Freshman Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) then endured a fate similar to her sister at the No. 6 spot, losing to Miami’s Sara Robbins in a third-set match tiebreaker, 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (10-4).
— ND —
#25 Miami 6, #24 Notre Dame 1
No. 1: #39 Caylan Leslie (ND) d. #121 Megan Bradley (UM), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
No. 2: #91 Melissa Applebaum (UM) d. #87 Alicia Salas (ND), 6-4, 6-2
No. 3: *Mari Toro (UM) d. Katie Cunha (ND), 7-6 (9-7), 6-1
No. 4: Staci Stevens (UM) d. Kristina Stastny (ND), 7-5, 6-1
No. 5: Sihem Bennacer (UM) d. Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) 6-2, 2-6, 6-1
No. 6: Sara Robbins (UM) d. Lauren Connelly (ND), 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (10-4)
Order of finish: 2, 4, 3*, 1, 5, 6
No. 1: #22 Applebaum/Bradley (UM) d. Cunha/Jennifer Smith (ND), 8-2
No. 2: *Igna deVilliers/Abby Smith (UM) d. L. Connelly/Salas (ND), 8-5
No. 3: Stevens/Toro (UM) d. S.J. Connelly/Stastny (ND), 8-5
Order of finish: 1, 2*, 3
* indicates clinching match