March 19, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (7-6) will wrap up its home slate with four matches in the Eck Tennis Pavilion in a six-day span, beginning Friday. The Irish, who dropped 12 spots to 27th when the first set of national computer rankings was released this week, will play host to Iowa on Friday at 3:30 p.m. (EST), #13 William & Mary on Saturday at 9 a.m. (EST), #28 Michigan on Tuesday at 4 p.m. (EST), and #54 Purdue on Wednesday at 4 p.m. (EST). Notre Dame, which is 5-2 at home this season, will play its final home match in March for the first time in the history of the program before finishing with four road matches to complete the regular season.
SPRING BREAK RECAP: Over spring break, the Irish headed west, splitting a pair of matches. Notre Dame pulled out a 4-3 win over #49 BYU on March 8 in Provo, Utah. The Cougars claimed the doubles point with wins at Nos. 1 and 3. The Irish won two of three singles matches decided in straight sets to tie the score, 2-2, with a trio of matches to be determined by third sets. After Notre Dame’s Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) won at No. 2 and BYU’s Rebecca Pike was victorious at No. 4, the match would be decided by the No. 5 singles contest between Irish sophomore Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Cougar Hadley MacFarlane. Tied 4-4 in the final set, Connelly broke serve and finished a come-from-behind 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory to give the Irish their first win in three matches this season decided by one point.
After five days of practice, Notre Dame played outdoors for the first time this spring, taking on No. 7 Arizona State on March 14 in Tempe, dropping a 5-2 decision. The Sun Devils won the doubles point with victories at Nos. 1 and 3 and then took each of the top four singles contests in straight sets. After the outcome of the match was determined, Notre Dame scored a pair of points at the bottom of the lineup on match-tiebreaker victories. Sarah Jane Connelly won at No. 5, while her sister, freshman Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) did the same at No. 6.
IRISH vs. HAWKEYES: Prior to finishing the regular season with seven straight Big Ten matches, Iowa (3-7, 1-2 Big Ten) will step out of conference this weekend for a pair of tilts, taking on Notre Dame on Friday afternoon and #13 William & Mary on Saturday morning. The Hawkeyes’ wins came against Purdue and Marquette (both 4-3 scores) in February and vs. New Orleans on Sunday. Four of Iowa’s losses came to teams currently in the top 30: #11 Vanderbilt, #15 South Alabama, #19 Illinois, and #26 Georgia Tech. The Hawkeyes were ranked 57th in the preseason before moving up to 54th and then down to 62nd last week only to fall out of the listing of this week’s initial set of computer rankings. In 2002, Iowa was 9-13 (5-5 Big Ten), concluding its season in the second round of the conference tournament. Head coach Paul Wardlaw is in his sixth season at Iowa with a 65-60 (.520) record. In 14 seasons as a head coach, he is 315-135 (.700).
Iowa and Notre Dame will meet for the fifth consecutive season and the ninth time overall. The Irish have won the last three and all seven previous regular-season meetings, but the Hawkeyes upset Notre Dame 5-4 in the second round of the 1999 NCAA Championship at the Courtney Tennis Center. The teams first met in 1985, with the Irish taking an 8-1 decision. All seven matchups (including this year) between the teams since 1990 have been at Notre Dame, with the Irish holding a 5-1 edge. Notre Dame, which will enter the contest ranked ahead of Iowa for the seventh straight time, has won each of the regular-season meetings by at least three points.
The 20th-ranked Irish defeated #48 Iowa 5-2 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Feb. 22, 2002. Notre Dame won the bottom two doubles matches to take the doubles point. The Irish took a 3-1 lead, but the top three singles matches went to third sets, with the Irish eventually winning a pair of them. Notre Dame’s Lindsey Green provided the clinching win, downing 80th-ranked Cassie Haas 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3. The Hawkeyes got wins at Nos. 2 and 4, with Denitza Alexandrova upsetting #127 Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) in the latter match. Salas was 10-0 in dual matches prior to the contest, and she finished 24-3. Alexandrova and Toni Neykova also registered a 9-8 upset of Green and Becky Varnum, ranked 30th nationally, at No. 1 doubles.
IRISH vs. TRIBE: William & Mary heads into the weekend with a 12-4 (3-0 Colonial Athletic) record, slated to face Iowa on Saturday morning and the Irish on Sunday morning. All four of the Tribe’s losses came to teams currently ranked among the top eight nationally: #2 Stanford, #3 California, #7 Arizona State, #8 North Carolina. Among William & Mary’s victories, the most notable came against #12 Kentucky, #17 Fresno State, and #20 Northwestern. The Tribe has won three straight and six of seven coming into the weekend. William & Mary was ranked 16th in the preseason, but the Tribe climbed to ninth last week, prior to being listed 13th in the initial set of computer rankings. Three singles players and a doubles team hold national rankings for William & Mary. Sophomore Candice Fuchs, 26th in singles, is 10-4 at No. 1, with all of her losses coming to top-20 players. Freshman Megan Muth is 82nd in singles and has won six of her last seven matches. Sophomore Amy Wei is 114th with a 19-5 record and a seven-match winning streak, playing mostly Nos. 5 and 6. Fuchs and Kate Boomershine are ranked 15th in doubles with a 13-4 mark. Notre Dame and William & Mary have played six common opponents: Arizona State, Wisconsin, Kentucky, North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Northwestern. The Tribe is 4-2 against those foes, while the Irish are 2-4.
A year ago, William & Mary was 19-8 (3-0 CAA), winning the Colonial Athletic Association title for the 16th time in 17 years. The Tribe then dropped a 4-3 decision to Clemson in the first round of the NCAA Championship. William & Mary was ranked 49th in the preseason, but peaked at No. 11 before finishing 18th. Head coach Brian Kalbas is in his 11th season at William & Mary with a 201-83 (.708) record. A 1989 graduate of Notre Dame and the 1998 national coach of the year, Kalbas previously served as an Irish assistant coach for three seasons, helping Notre Dame to the 1992 NCAA final.
The Tribe and the Irish will meet for the 10th straight season and the 12th time overall. Notre Dame has won each of the last five meetings and holds a 7-4 overall edge in the series. The teams first faced off in 1991, with William & Mary gaining a 7-1 win on neutral courts. The last time the Tribe upended Notre Dame was a 6-3 home win in 1998. This year’s tilt will mark the seventh time in the last eight meetings that both the Irish and the Tribe were ranked in the top 30 heading into the contest. Notre Dame has won three of four matches at home in the series, losing only in 1997.
In 2002, Notre Dame, ranked 25th, upset No. 14 William & Mary 5-2 in Williamsburg on April 13. The doubles point came down to the last match on-court, with Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) and Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) pulling out an 8-6 win at No. 3 to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. All six singles matches were decided in straight sets, but Notre Dame won four of them to gain the win. The Tribe got victories at Nos. 1 and 3, posting upsets at each position. At the top of the lineup, #111 Candice Fuchs beat 86th-ranked Becky Varnum 6-2, 6-2, while Angela Buergis defeated #121 Nina Vaughan at No. 3.
IRISH vs. WOLVERINES: Michigan heads into this weekend with an 8-3 (2-1 Big Ten) record. The Wolverines, who have won three straight, will play host to Marquette on Saturday before heading to Notre Dame on Tuesday. Michigan’s losses came to #4 Duke, #10 Tennessee, and #31 Ohio State. Michigan’s best win was a 4-3 triumph over #12 Kentucky. The Wolverines were 37th in the preseason and now stand 28th. Michigan and Notre Dame have played five common opponents: Kentucky, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Duke, and Western Michigan. The Wolverines are 3-2 against them, while the Irish are 2-3. In 2002, Michigan was 14-11 (5-5 Big Ten), losing 4-3 to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the conference tournament and then falling 4-2 to Georgia Tech in the opening round of the NCAA Championship. After being unranked in the preseason, the Wolverines peaked at No. 34 before finishing 39th.
Notre Dame will play Michigan for the 18th consecutive season, the longest streak of any current Irish opponent. The teams will match up for the 21st time overall, with the Irish leading the series 13-7, including wins in eight straight and 11 of the last 12 against Michigan. The programs first matched up in 1981, with the Wolverines winning 8-1 on the way to taking each of the first four contests between the schools. Michigan is the fourth-most-common opponent in Irish women’s tennis history, behind Northwestern (24 matches), Illinois (22 matches), and Purdue (21 matches). This will be the 11th consecutive time that the Irish enter the match with a higher national ranking than Michigan, but this is the highest-ranked Wolverine team to take on Notre Dame since 17th-ranked Michigan fell just short, 5-4, against ND in 1997. The Irish are 8-1 at home against the Wolverines, with the only blemish a 7-2 defeat in 1984 in Michigan’s first-ever visit to Notre Dame. The eight-match winning streak for the Irish is the second-longest current streak against a 2003 foe (ND has won 10 in a row vs. Illinois).
A year ago, the 13th-ranked Irish improved to 3-0 with a 5-2 road win over #69 Michigan on Jan. 30. Notre Dame swept the doubles matches and then won four of six in singles. Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.) clinched the victory in a close two-setter with Leanne Rutherford at No. 4, while Nina Vaughan pulled out a three-set win over Michelle DaCosta at No. 2 in the only match to go to a deciding frame.
IRISH vs. BOILERMAKERS: After starting 4-1, Purdue enters this week with a 5-5 (0-2 Big Ten) record. The Boilermakers will be at San Diego State on Wednesday and at #3 California on Saturday before heading to Notre Dame next Wednesday. The last time on the court, Purdue broke a four-match losing streak by topping DePaul. The Boilermakers were 52nd in the preseason and rose to 46th before being listed 54th this week. Sophomore Amy Walgenbach is ranked 112th nationally in singles with an 8-2 dual-match record, mostly at Nos. 3 and 4 singles. Notre Dame and Purdue will have played five common opponents prior to their matchup: Tennessee, Western Michigan, Iowa, Kentucky, and Duke. The Boilermakers are 1-4 against them, while the Irish are 1-3 heading into Friday’s contest with the Hawkeyes. Purdue returned eight of nine monogram winners from last year’s squad that was 10-12 (5-5 Big Ten) and lost to Northwestern in the second round of the league tournament. The Boilers were ranked 60th in the preseason, moved up to No. 40 and finished 50th, just missing an at-large berth to the NCAA Championship. Head coach Mat Iandolo is in his 12th season at Purdue.
The Irish and the Boilermakers will play for the seventh straight season and the 22nd time in the last 22 years. Notre Dame holds a 16-5 edge, but had a 12-match winning streak against Purdue broken a year ago. The Boilers took the first meeting, a 7-0 decision in 1982. Notre Dame has more victories against the Boilermakers than any other opponent. This 22nd all-time match ties Purdue with Illinois as the second-most-common opponent in Irish women’s tennis history, behind Northwestern (24 matches). This will be the 11th consecutive time that the Irish enter the match with a higher national ranking than Purdue. Notre Dame is 12-2 at home against the Boilermakers, including wins in each of the last nine contests. The last Purdue win at Notre Dame was an 8-1 triumph in 1986. Notre Dame has shut out or held Purdue to one point on nine occasions.
Last season, the 51st-ranked Boilermakers dealt #17 Notre Dame a 5-2 loss in West Lafayette on March 21. The doubles point was decided in the last match on-court, with Melissa Woods and Lynsey Fick gaining an 8-6 triumph at No. 2. Missy Wright and Gretchen Haynor had previously delivered an 8-5 upset of the nation’s 30th-ranked team, Lindsey Green and Becky Varnum, at No. 1. In singles, the Boilermakers won three of the four matches decided in straight sets to claim victory over the Irish for the first time since 1986. Shawna Zuccarini finished it with a win at No. 5 over Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.). After the outcome was determined, Notre Dame’s Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) and Purdue’s Amy Walgenbach got match-tiebreaker victories at Nos. 4 and 6, respectively. Straight-set upsets at the top two spots helped the Boilers cause, with Melissa Iqbal defeating 75th-ranked Varnum at No. 1 and Haynor topping #118 Nina Vaughan at No. 2. The 12-match winning streak still stands as the longest for the Irish over a single opponent.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Jay Louderback is in his 14th year at Notre Dame with a 246-121 (.670) record and his 24th year as a collegiate coach with a 450-299 (.601) mark. With a 4-3 win over BYU on March 8, 2003, he became one of just five active NCAA Division I coaches win 450 career victories. Louderback’s Irish have finished in the national top 30 in each of the last 10 seasons, have won 10 conference titles and registered 20 or more victories five times in the last seven seasons. After taking over a program looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance, Louderback has helped Notre Dame to the NCAAs nine times in the last 10 years, including five appearances in the round of 16 and a 1996 quarterfinal finish. His teams have been ranked 27th or better in every set of national rankings for an 11-year span from the beginning of the 1992-93 season to the present. Louderback, a four-time midwest region coach of the year, has been honored as his conference’s top coach on eight occasions, including five times in seven years in the BIG EAST. In his time at Notre Dame, Louderback’s players have earned All-America honors 13 times, won three national ITA awards, and earned 16 invitations to the NCAA singles championship and 10 to the NCAA doubles tournament. His players have dominated the university awards, leading all sports in both Byron V. Kanaley awards (five) and Francis Patrick O’Connor awards (four). Louderback gained his 400th win in collegiate women’s tennis (45 of his victories came in three years coaching the Iowa State men’s team) on Jan. 25, 2003 vs. Wisconsin. The Arkansas City, Kan., native, and 1976 graduate of Wichita State arrived at Notre Dame prior to the 1990 season after coaching for seven years at his alma mater and three years (men and women) at Iowa State.
AMONG THE NATION’S ELITE: Despite losing 5-2 to No. 7 Arizona State in its only match of last week, Notre Dame tumbled 12 spots in the Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings, from 15th to 27th. The drop can be attributed to the fact that this week’s rankings are the first of the season to be determined by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s point-per-match computer formula, while each of the previous listings were based on coaches’ votes.
Notre Dame’s No. 27 ranking matches the lowest for the Irish since the ITA began ranking more than 25 teams in 1993. The Irish were 27th midway through the ’93 season. Prior to this week, Notre Dame had been ranked in the top 25 in each of the last 125 sets of rankings released by the ITA, dating back to fall, 1995. Nonetheless, the Irish have been listed 27th or better continuously for all of 11 consecutive seasons, a streak dating back to the preseason listing in the fall of 1992 and spanning nearly 200 sets of rankings.
A new set of individual rankings was released last week, with two Notre Dame players earning career-best listings. Junior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.) dropped from 44th to 51st in singles despite having a 4-0 record (to extend her winning streak to eight) since the previous rankings were released. Classmate Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) moved up to a career-high 65th after being listed 73rd in the previous rankings. In doubles, senior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.) and freshman Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) moved up four spots to 27th, marking the highest ranking for Stastny. Another set of team and individual rankings will be released March 26.
BRING ‘EM ON: Notre Dame’s schedule has proven to be even more challenging than it seemed to be at the start of the year. In the first 13 matches, the Irish faced eight teams ranked in the top 30 at the time of the match, and six of those squads are currently listed in the top 20 in the national rankings (#4 Duke, #7 Arizona State, #8 North Carolina, #10 Tennessee, #12 Kentucky, #20 Northwestern). The Irish are in the midst of a nine-match stretch featuring seven teams that advanced at least to the round of 16 in last year’s NCAA tournament. In all, nine teams on the ’03 slate were among the final 16 a year ago and 10 are listed in the national top 30. Fourteen teams on this year’s schedule are in the national rankings and 15 reached the NCAA tournament in ’02.
BIG ELEVEN (OR TWELVE)?: Though Notre Dame participates in the BIG EAST Conference in women’s tennis, a glance at the Irish schedule may not bear out that fact. Notre Dame will face only a trio of BIG EAST foes (Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami) during the regular season, but will take on a total of eight teams from the Big Ten Conference, including six in the next seven matches. Only Penn State, Minnesota, and Michigan State from the Big Ten will not play the Irish this season. A year ago, Notre Dame played nine matches against Big Ten teams (including the NCAA tournament), posting a 5-4 mark. In ’03, the Irish are 1-1 thus far, having defeated Wisconsin and lost to Northwestern.
Notre Dame has had a long history of playing Big Ten teams, posting an all-time 98-60 (.620) mark, averaging over six matches per season against Big Ten teams in the 27-year history of the program. Each of the six most common opponents for Notre Dame in the history of the program are members of the Big Ten (Northwestern-24 matches, Illinois-22, Purdue-21, Michigan-20, Wisconsin-18, Indiana-16).
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE: Irish junior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.), who missed all of last spring with a shoulder injury after going 30-12 as a freshman, has returned to action this spring with much success. She is 11-6, including 9-4 in dual matches, and is ranked 51st nationally in singles, having defeated six ranked players. Leslie returned after a 14-month layoff at the Collegiate Tennis Kickoff Classic, going 2-2 with wins over #60 Tina Hojnik of Georgia and #83 Jennifer Magley of Florida. After starting the dual-match season 1-3, she won seven straight matches, including straight-set wins over #15 Amanda Johnson of Duke, #48 Nathalie Roels of Kentucky, #98 Karin Coetzee of Wake Forest, and #105 Kendra Strohm of Texas. On March 1, she moved into the No. 1 singles position for the first time in her career. She has won three of four matches in that position. All six of her losses came to players currently ranked among the nation’s top 100, with one decision in a match tiebreaker and another in a third set.
CONSISTENT CONNELLY: Freshman Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) has been Notre Dame’s hottest player of late, heading into this weekend with four-match winning streaks in both singles and doubles. After opening up the spring 3-6 in singles, playing Nos. 4 and 5, she has responded with a perfect 4-0 mark at No. 6 singles after head coach Jay Louderback initially slated her in that position on March 1. Connelly posted straight-set wins against Wake Forest, Texas, and BYU before pulling out a match tiebreaker against Arizona State. In doubles, Connelly and junior Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) started their hot streak at No. 2 by winning against Kentucky in the last match on-court to give the Irish the initial point of the match. Next it was consecutive 8-4 wins against Wake Forest and Texas before being forced to abandon their match vs. BYU, leading 6-3. In their last outing, the pair upset the 53rd-ranked team of Mhairi Brown and Cindy Sureephong of Arizona State, marking Connelly’s first doubles win over a ranked opponent. Overall, Connelly is 15-11 in singles and 13-9 in doubles.
LOGGING SOME HOURS: Irish sophomore Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) is 4-2 in her last six singles matches, but she has certainly had to earn her success by putting in hours on the court. Only one of her last six matches was decided in straight sets, with a pair finishing in match tiebreakers and three more determined by third sets. The marathon began on Feb. 23 with a 6-2, 3-6, 1-0 (12-10) win over Ashley Robards of Tennessee. After a straight-set loss to Kentucky, Connelly rallied to top Alexandra Knight of Wake Forest 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, but lost the following day to Texas’ Kelly Baritot 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Over spring break, Connelly delivered a 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Hadley MacFarlane with the match tied 3-3 to give the Irish a victory over BYU. In her most recent outing, the Irish sophomore came from behind again, posting a 2-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-8) win over Arizona State’s Cindy Sureephong. In all, seven of her 12 matches this spring have not been decided in straight sets, with Connelly winning five of those. She had match-tiebreaker victories in the first two matches of the fall to move her season record to 7-2 in matches lasting more than two sets. Of the 14 times she has dropped the first set in 2002-03, Connelly has rallied to win on five occasions. As a freshman, she was 3-7 in matches lasting more than the minimum number of sets and 3-11 when losing the first set.
KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME TENNIS: For the fastest results of Notre Dame tennis matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #8. The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com. The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame tennis match. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Bo Rottenborn at Rottenborn.firstname.lastname@example.org, or Chris Masters at Masters.email@example.com.