April 4, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 27th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (10-6, 3-0) climbed atop the BIG EAST standings with a 5-2 win over 18th-ranked Miami (13-3, 2-1) Sunday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The win virtually guarantees the Irish the top seed in the April 29-May 1 BIG EAST Championship for the eighth time in nine years in the conference. Notre Dame won two out of three doubles matches and four of six in singles play, including two three-set decisions, to snap the Hurricanes’ four-match winning streak.
Notre Dame led 3-2 with the two remaining singles matches in third sets. Sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), delivered the clinching win for the Irish, defeating Audrey Banada 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 5 postion. The loss was Banada’s first in 15 dual matches this season Stastny snapped the freshman’s 21-match winning streak. Banada’s only previous loss in 2003-04 was to teammate Sihem Bennacer in the semifinals of the Gator Fall Classic on October 11, 2003. Prior to Sunday’s contest Banada was 23-1 on the season and 14-0 in dual-match play.
The Irish won two of three matches to take the doubles point for the 10th time this season. Notre Dame won the the final three games at the Nos. 1 and 2 positions to take a 1-0 lead. The initial point was decided at the top doubles position, where freshman twins Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) upset the 22nd-ranked pair of Melissa Applebaum and Megan Bradley 8-6.
The No. 3 doubles contest was first off the court as Banada and Mari Toro posted an 8-1 win over senior Emily Neighbours (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor School) and sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy).
Senior co-captain Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) and sophomore Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) then put the fate of the initial point in the hands of the No. 1 teams by beating Staci Stevens and Sara Robbins 8-6 at No. 2 after rallying from a 6-5 deficit. Salas and Connelly have won four of their last five and are 17-7 this season, including 11-5 in dual matches at No. 2.
It marked the 17th consecutive time the Irish went on to team victory after winning the doubles point. This season, Notre Dame is 10-0 when winning the doubles point and 0-6 when losing it.
The Irish took an early 3-0 lead with a pair of straight-set victories in singles. Junior Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) was off the court first, knocking off Bennacer 6-3, 6-0 at No. 6. In last year’s regular-season match, Bennacer beat Connelly in a three-set decision.
Lauren Connelly followed with a 6-3, 6-2 decision over Stevens at the No. 4 position. The Miami junior was 12-3 in dual matches heading into the contest.
Miami got on the board in a battle of top-10 players at No. 1 singles. Megan Bradley, ranked fourh, topped 10th-ranked Salas in a three-set showdown 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
The Hurricanes pulled to within 3-2 as Mari Toro bested No. 92 Catrina Thompson 6-0, 7-6 (7-5) at No. 3 singles. Toro gained a measure of revenge after losing 7-6, 6-3 to Thompson in last fall’s Illinois Midwest Blast.
After the outcome was determined, Christian Thompson rallied for a 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 win over Melissa Applebaum, who was 43rd in the preseason national rankings, at No. 2. Thompson improves to 20-12 on the season.
The Irish improved to 10-2 in indoor matches this season, while being winless in four outdoor affairs.
Notre Dame is 7-1 at home this season and has won 12 of the last 14 contests in the Eck Tennis Pavilion, dating back to last season.
The Irish will return to action next weekend, traveling to Williamsburg, Va. to take on #37 William and Mary on Saturday, April 10, and continuing on to face 13th-ranked Texas on Monday, April 12 in Austin.
#27 Notre Dame 5, #18 Miami 2
No. 1: #4 Megan Bradley (M) d. #10 Alicia Salas (ND) 6-3, 1-6, 6-2
No. 2: Christian Thompson (ND) d. Melissa Applebaum (M) 1-6, 7-5, 6-3
No. 3: Mari Toro (M) d. #92 Catrina Thompson (ND) 6-0, 7-6 (7-5)
No. 4: Lauren Connelly (ND) d. Staci Stevens (M) 6-3, 6-2
No. 5: Kristina Stastny (ND) d. Audrey Banada (M) 1-6, 6-4, 6-4
No. 6: Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Sihem Bennacer (M) 6-3, 6-0
Order of Finish: 6, 4, 1, 3, 5*, 2
No. 1: !Thompson/Thompson (ND) d. #22 Applebaum/Bradley (M) 8-6
No. 2: L. Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Stevens/Sara Robbins (M) 8-6
No. 3: Banada/Toro (M) d. Emily Neighbours/Stastny (ND) 8-1
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1!
* denotes clinching match, ! denotes clinching win in final match on-court