March 29, 2005
MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin redshirt freshman Nicole Beck rallied from a one-set deficit and prevailed 7-5 in the third set against Irish senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) in the final match remaining to hand the 35th-ranked Badgers (10-4) a 4-3 victory over #28 Notre Dame (8-8) Tuesday afternoon in women’s tennis action at Nielsen Tennis Stadium. The Irish, still playing without injured sophomore Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) in singles, won the doubles point and got a pair of straight-set singles victories, but Beck prevailed in the match’s only three-set affair to give Wisconsin its first home triumph over Notre Dame since 1988. The Irish will next return home for their final two home matches of the spring, beginning on Saturday against #72 Long Beach State at 10 a.m. (EST).
Connelly, who only earned a spot in Notre Dame’s singles lineup earlier this month, clawed out a first-set victory, prevailing 7-5. But Beck, who has now won seven of her last nine and is undefeated in a trio of three-setters as a collegian, came back, taking the second set and eventually the match, earning her first career win when dropping the opening frame, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5. It was the fifth time in Connelly’s career – but first this spring – that she was on the court with the score tied 3-3. The Irish senior captain had also been unbeaten in her only two three-set affairs this season prior to Tuesday. But she could not hold a one-set advantage for the first time in more than a year, since losing 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 to Leanne Rutherford of Michigan in the clinching match of a 4-3 Wolverines victory on Jan. 29, 2004. Connelly had won 14 straight when taking the opening set since then (7-0 in 2004-05). The Irish captain had been 3-1 against the Badgers in her career.
Wisconsin is one of the hottest teams in college tennis. The Badgers have won six in a row and have not been defeated in more than a month. They are unbeaten in four 4-3 matches this season.
Notre Dame’s biggest victory came from 44th-ranked sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), who defeated #93 Katie McGaffigan 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 singles. It was the eighth victory for Thompson in 14 matches this season against nationally-ranked opponents. It avenged a 6-4, 7-5 victory by the Badger senior, ranked 42nd at the time, in the quarterfinals of last fall’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Championships, which was the lone defeat for Thompson in the fall season. On Sunday, McGaffigan had downed Michigan’s 50th-ranked Michelle DaCosta in three sets in Wisconsin’s 4-3 win against the Wolverines.
Thompson has won three in a row – all against nationally-ranked players – and seven of her last nine to stand 17-6 on the season, including 11-5 in her first spring playing at No. 1. She has four straight-set wins against ranked players this season and is 12-3 on the road. Thompson’s only defeat in Midwest Region play this season was the fall contest with McGaffigan, as she holds an 8-1 mark (18-6 career), including five consecutive victories. She has won 18 straight matches when taking the opening set (15-0 this season) and is 13-3 against lower-ranked players.
The Irish won at Nos. 1 and 3 to claim the doubles point for the 13th time in 16 matches this spring. The point came down to the No. 1 match, where the #2-ranked team in college tennis, the Thompson twins, delivered an 8-3 victory over McGaffigan and Lindsay Martin in the last contest remaining. The Notre Dame sisters, who were upset in their last outing, avoided their first two-match losing streak of the season and won in the final match on court with the doubles point undecided for the second time in their career. It was the first time this season the Thompsons were in that position. They improved to 20-4 in 2004-05, including 12-2 in dual action at No. 1. It was the fourth clinching victory of the season for the Thompsons, as well as the eighth of their career. They are 9-1 in outdoor action in 2004-05 and have not been beaten in four matches against Midwest-Region opponents (14-6 career). The twin sisters are 3-0 in their careers against the Badgers, including an 8-5 win over Martin and McGaffigan in last year’s dual match. Catrina Thompson shares the team lead in doubles victories with a 22-4 record. Christian Thompson improved to 20-4 this season, becoming the sixth Notre Dame player to register 20+ victories in partnered play.
First off the court were Connelly and junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy), who beat Beck and Chelsea Nusslock 8-2 at No. 3. The Irish duo earned its 20th victory in 27 matches this season and is 10-4 in dual action at No. 3. Connelly and Stastny have won seven of their last nine overall and five in a row vs. regional opponents, bringing their record to 10-2 against the Midwest Region this season (18-9 career). Connelly earned her 45th career dual-match triumph in doubles action (33 losses, .577). She also is 41-19 in her career against the Midwest Region. Stastny is tied with Catrina Thompson for tops in doubles victories with a 22-7 record.
Wisconsin struck back with an 8-3 victory at No. 2, where Caitlin Burke and Kaylan Caiati defeated junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) 8-3. The Badger team is now 6-2 since first pairing together in mid-February. Connelly and Buck had registered an 8-2 victory over Burke and Nusslock in the round of 16 of last fall’s ITA Midwest Championships.
Notre Dame junior Liz Donohue (Sioux Falls, S.D./O’Gorman H.S.), who had previously been winless in two career matches against Wisconsin opponents, kept the Irish hopes alive by evening the team score with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over the freshman, Nusslock, at No. 6. She is 10-6 in road matches this season and 11-3 against regional foes. Donohue fought through two tough sets to reverse her recent fortunes in tight action. She came into the match having dropped nine consecutive sets decided by two games or fewer, as well as six consecutive “close” matches (where both players win a set or a two-set match is decided by four games or fewer). Nusslock, who was 10-3 this spring in dual action at No. 6 before the match, just had an eight-match winning streak snapped on Sunday.
After Catrina Thompson’s singles victory gave Notre Dame a 2-0 lead, the Badgers began their comeback. In a battle of players tied for 100th in the latest ITA national singles rankings, sophomore Caitlin Burke defeated Buck 6-2, 6-0 at No. 2 to get Wisconsin on the board. Burke has won six consecutive matches and is 19-8 this season, including 10-4 in dual play at No. 2. Half of Buck’s eight collegiate defeats (in 29 matches) have come against nationally-ranked foes.
Senior Lindsay Martin, a native of the southern Indiana town of Newburgh (just outside Evansville), evened the score at 2-2 by defeating Lauren Connelly 6-4, 6-1 at No. 3 singles. The Badger has won four consecutive matches, and she dealt the Irish junior her first loss at No. 3 in three career matches. The spot is normally occupied by Christian Thompson, who has not played singles since March 10 against UNLV, sitting out each of the last five contests with a nagging knee injury.
Caiati put Wisconsin up 3-2 by downing Stastny 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 at No. 4. The Badger sophomore has won six in a row.
Wisconsin beat Notre Dame for the first time since a 4-2 win in the opening round of the 2002 NCAA tournament. The last regular-season victory for the Badgers against the Irish came in a 4-3 decision at Notre Dame in 1996. The Irish had won seven in a row in Madison, dating back to an 8-1 Wisconsin triumph in 1988.
Notre Dame lost to a Midwest Region team for the first time in five matches this season and has now dropped three in a row outdoors. It was just the second defeat against a lower-ranked team in nine such contests this season for the Irish, who lost 6-1 at #24 BYU on March 12 when ranked 22nd in their first match without Christian Thompson in the singles lineup.
Notre Dame continued its struggles in close matches, as it has won just once in 10 tries in 4-3 matches over the past two seasons (0-5 this spring). The Irish have lost six straight with the score tied 3-3.
After playing host to The Beach on Saturday, Notre Dame will welcome #14 William & Mary for the home finale on Saturday, April 9 at 10 a.m. (EST).
#35 Wisconsin 4, #28 Notre Dame 3
No. 1: #44 Catrina Thompson (ND) def. #93 Katie McGaffigan (W) 6-2, 6-2
No. 2: #100 Caitlin Burke (W) def. #100 Brook Buck (ND) 6-2, 6-0
No. 3: Lindsay Martin (W) def. Lauren Connelly (ND) 6-4, 6-1
No. 4: Kaylan Caiati (W) def. Kristina Stastny (ND) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
No. 5: Nicole Beck (W) def. Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) 5-7, 6-3, 7-5
No. 6: Liz Donohue (ND) def. Chelsea Nusslock (W) 6-4, 7-5
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 5*
No. 1: #2 Thompson/Thompson (ND) def. Martin/McGaffigan (W) 8-3
No. 2: Burke/Caiati (W) def. Buck/L. Connelly (ND) 8-3
No. 3: S.J. Connelly/Stastny (ND) def. Beck/Nusslock (W) 8-2
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1*