Sept. 3, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A pair of Notre Dame singles players and two doubles teams gained career-high listings in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) preseason women’s singles and doubles rankings released today. Senior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.) led the way, ranked 26th in singles, while classmate Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) was 64th. In doubles, Salas and sophomore Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) were 37th and the team of junior Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) was 44th.
After missing 14 months due to a shoulder injury, Leslie returned in January ’03 to have an impressive spring season, finishing 17-11, including 9-5 at No. 1 singles. Ranked as high as 33rd, she finished the season 40th. Leslie delivered nine wins over ranked opponents, including victories against Duke’s Amanda Johnson (ninth in preseason rankings) and William & Mary’s Candice Fuchs (16th).
Salas moved up to the top two singles positions in 2002-03 after playing mostly Nos. 4 and 5 as a sophomore. She finished with a 24-15 record, including 9-5 at No. 2 singles. Among her six career wins over ranked opponents was a victory over Northwestern’s Cristelle Grier (fourth in preseason rankings). Salas was ranked as high as 65th before finishing the season 98th.
Connelly and Salas played together most of last season, compiling a 17-9 record and being ranked 59th in the final rankings. The team finished the season strong with consecutive upsets of top-15 teams in NCAA tournament action, knocking off Missouri’s 15th-ranked pair before topping the No. 3 team from Vanderbilt.
Despite only playing eight matches together a year ago, Connelly and Stastny earned mention in the preseason rankings. The pair first teamed together in late March and played as a team the remainder of the season, winning on five occasions at Nos. 2 and 3. With the BIG EAST Championship title match tied 3-3 with just one doubles match remaining on the court, the team pulled out an 8-6 victory to top Miami and clinch the championship for the Irish.
Georgia’s Agata Cioroch was the unanimous No. 1 in singles, while Stanford’s Lauren Barnikow and Erin Burdette gained every first-place vote in doubles to secure the top spot.
The Irish open their season Sept. 25-28 in Peachtree City, Ga. in the adidas Invitational. The lone home event for Notre Dame this fall is an exhibition match against USC on Oct. 17.