April 30, 2004
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The top-seeded and 28th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (11-10) moved into the final of the BIG EAST Championship for the ninth consecutive year, beating fourth-seeded #71 Virginia Tech (14-13) 4-0 Friday morning at the Neil Schiff Tennis Complex. The Irish will take on the tournament’s second seed, #26 Miami (16-3), in the title match on Saturday at 9 a.m. (EDT). The teams have met in every BIG EAST final since Notre Dame joined the league in 1995-96, with the Irish winning five times, including a 4-3 triumph a year ago. Once again, in-match updates will be available at the top and bottom of every hour, and more frequently if the action merits it, via the Notre Dame Sports Hotline, which can be accessed at 574-631-3000.
Notre Dame won the doubles point and the first three singles matches off the court to secure its 13th shutout in 14 all-time non-title matches in the BIG EAST tournament.
The Irish got wins at Nos. 1 and 3 to claim the match’s initial point. First off the court was senior Emily Neighbours (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor School), making her BIG EAST Championship debut, and junior Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), who were victorious 8-2 at No. 3 against Carolyn Kramer and Colombian Carolina Rodriguez. The Virginia Tech team led 2-1 early before Neighbours and Connelly won seven consecutive games to secure the victory. Connelly improved to 4-0 in her career in doubles matches in the BIG EAST tournament.
Notre Dame freshman twins Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), ranked 50th nationally in doubles, clinched the doubles point with an 8-4 triumph at No. 1 against Felice Lam and Elissa Kinard. The Thompsons have won five of their last seven matches and improved to 21-14 this season. The Irish duo prevailed 8-2 against the same Hokie team, then ranked 37th, at No. 1 in Notre Dame’s 5-2 regular-season win at Virginia Tech on Feb. 15.
In the remaining doubles match, senior co-captain Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) and sophomore Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness) were tied 5-5 with Ashley James and Israeli Anat Elazari at No. 2.
Christian Thompson was the first victor off the court in singles, taking just over an hour to defeat Kramer 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2. Thompson improved to 24-13 this season and has won six of her last seven matches.
Sarah Jane Connelly put the Irish within a point of victory, defeating Meredith Holmes 6-2, 6-2 at No. 6. In her career, Connelly is 7-1 in combined singles and doubles matches in the BIG EAST Championship.
Sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) provided the clinching win by downing Rodriguez 6-2, 6-2 at No. 5.
Lauren Connelly was on the verge of victory, serving for the match, up 6-4, 5-2 against Ashley James at No. 4 when Stastny won, forcing the abandonment of all other contests on court.
The No. 1 match between #23 Salas and #109 Elazari was in a third set. The Tech sophomore won the first 6-1, while the Irish captain took the second by the same score, and Elazari was up 2-1 in the decisive frame.
Lam appeared to be on her way to a victory, as she led Catrina Thompson 6-3, 4-1 at No. 3 when the match was abandoned.
Notre Dame improved to 6-0 all-time against Virginia Tech, with all of the contests coming since the Hokies joined the BIG EAST in 2001.
The win was the first for the Irish in eight outdoor matches this season.
Miami posted a 4-0 victory over #56 Boston College in Friday’s other semifinal to move into the championship match for the 13th consecutive year. Notre Dame topped the Hurricanes in the BIG EAST final in 1996, ’97, ’99, 2001, and ’03.
On April 4, the Irish won a trio of three-setters to defeat Miami 5-2 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
The Irish improved to 19-3 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship and 27-0 against current league members other than Miami.
 #28 Notre Dame 4,  #71 Virginia Tech 0
No. 1 #109 Anat Elazari (VT) led #23 Alicia Salas (ND) 6-1, 1-6, 2-1, abandoned
No. 2 Christian Thompson (ND) d. Carolyn Kramer (VT) 6-1, 6-1
No. 3 Felice Lam (VT) led Catrina Thompson (ND) 6-3, 4-1, abandoned
No. 4 Lauren Connelly (ND) led Ashley James (VT) 6-4, 5-2, abandoned
No. 5 *Kristina Stastny (ND) d. Carolina Rodriguez (VT) 6-2, 6-2
No. 6 Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Meredith Holmes (VT) 6-2, 6-2
Order of finish: 2, 6, 5*
No. 1 *#50 Thompson/Thompson (ND) d. Elissa Kinard/Lam (VT) 8-4
No. 2 L. Connelly/Salas (ND) vs. Elazari/James (VT) 5-5, abandoned
No. 3 S.J. Connelly/Emily Neighbours (ND) d. Kramer/Rodriguez (VT) 8-2
Order of finish: 3, 1*