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Third-Set Tiebreaker Proves Decisive as #11 Northwestern Edges #24 Notre Dame 4-3 in Five-Hour Match

April 15, 2004

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Wildcat sophomore Jamie Peisel won three straight points with the score tied 4-4 to beat Irish sophomore Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 4, handing #11 Northwestern (16-4) a 4-3 win over #24 Notre Dame (10-9) in women’s tennis action Thursday at the Courtney Tennis Center and Eck Tennis Pavilion. The match lasted five hours and seven minutes, with the final hour and 40 minutes seeing the Wildcats holding a 3-2 lead with the Nos. 4 and 5 singles matches on the court. Notre Dame sophomore Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) won six straight games to rally from a 5-1 deficit in the third set in defeating Andrea Yung at No. 5 seconds after Peisel clinched the Northwestern triumph. The Irish swept the doubles matches, highlighted by freshman twins Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) upsetting the nation’s second-ranked pair.

When the match was moved indoors, both Connelly and Stastny were down a set but ahead late in the second. Connelly was up 5-3 when play resumed. Following a Peisel hold, Connelly went up 40-0. After squandering the first two set points, she sent a backhand winner screaming down the line, eliciting a roar from the crowd and assuring a third set. After three straight service breaks, Connelly held in the fourth game of the decisive set to take a 4-1 lead. But Peisel responded by winning four straight games to take a 5-4 advantage. The momentum shifted again, as Connelly held and got a break to go up 6-5. She could not serve out the match, as Peisel delivered the eighth service break of the set to send it to a tiebreaker. The Wildcat held a 4-2 lead in the ‘breaker before Connelly evened the score. Peisel then edged ahead with a backhand winner down the line. A Connelly groundstroke found the net on the next point and a forehand volley shared the same fate on the first match point, giving Peisel a 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4) win.

Stastny served for the second set in the first game in the Eck Pavilion, leading 5-4. Yung broke to prolong the frame, but then could not hold, and Stastny served it out to force a third set. The Northwestern junior appeared to be in control of the final set, winning four straight games to open up a 5-1 advantage. She would not win another game, as Stastny took six in a row, denying Yung’s attempts to serve out the set on two occasions for a 6-7, 7-5, 7-5 victory.

The final two singles contests were rematches from last year’s dual match between the teams, though the Wildcats got easy wins on both occasions in ’03. Peisel beat Connelly 6-2, 6-3 a season ago, while Yung won 6-1, 6-2.

Peisel gained her 10th consecutive victory on Thursday, improving her record to 20-11. Connelly dropped to 0-5 in tiebreakers this season and 3-10 in her career.

Notre Dame became the first team to sweep Northwestern in doubles this season. First off the court were Lauren Connelly and senior co-captain Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.), who beat Peisel and Alexis Prousis 8-5 at No. 2. The Irish duo is 20-7 this season, including 14-5 in dual matches at No. 2. It has won five in a row and seven of its last eight. Peisel and Prousis were 18-6 heading into the contest.

Senior Emily Neighbours (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor School) and junior Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) then beat Yung and Ruth Barnes 9-7 at No. 3 to clinch the doubles point.

In the final match, the Thompsons edged Cristelle Grier and Jessica Rush, who were ranked first in the nation earlier this spring. The Wildcat team fell to 29-5 on the season, including 15-4 this spring. The Thompson twins improved to 19-14 and were victorious in a tiebreaker for the first time in five tries.

Prousis was done first in singles, beating Catrina Thompson 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3 to improve to 24-7 this season, including 15-3 in dual action.

Sarah Jane Connelly then topped Connie Chiang 6-1, 6-2 at No. 6 to put the Irish ahead again. It was Chiang’s first loss in eight dual matches this season.

Grier, ranked third in the nation, improved to 19-1 this season at No. 1 and 44-1 in her career in dual matches (all at No. 1) by beating 11th-ranked Salas 6-3, 6-2. Grier is 29-3 overall in 2003-04.

Rush, ranked 55th, put Northwestern ahead for the first time by beating Christian Thompson 7-5, 6-4 at No. 2.

Northwestern has won four straight against the Irish, including three 4-3 decisions.

The match began at the Courtney Tennis Center, but was moved indoors for the final 1:29 due to darkness.

The Irish will finish the regular season next Wednesday, April 21 at Purdue in a 1 p.m. (EST) match.

#11 Northwestern 4, #24 Notre Dame 3


No. 1: #3 Cristelle Grier (N) d. #11 Alicia Salas (ND) 6-3, 6-2

No. 2: #55 Jessica Rush (N) d. Christian Thompson (ND) 7-5, 6-4

No. 3: Alexis Prousis (N) d. Catrina Thompson (ND) 6-2, 6-1

No. 4: *Jamie Peisel (N) d. Lauren Connelly (ND) 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4)

No. 5: Kristina Stastny (ND) d. Andrea Yung (N) 6-7, 7-5, 7-5

No. 6: Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Connie Chiang (N) 6-1, 6-2

Order of Finish: 3, 6, 1, 2, 4*, 5


No. 1: #57 Thompson/Thompson (ND) d. #2 Grier/Rush (N) 9-8 (7-5)

No. 2: L. Connelly/Salas (ND) d. Peisel/Prousis (N) 8-5

No. 3: S.J. Connelly/Emily Neighbours (ND) d. Ruth Barnes/Yung (N) 9-7

Order of Finish: 2, 3*, 1

* denotes clinching win; ! denotes clinching win in final match on-court