Senior Kelly Nelson will aim for her first career berth in the singles main draw of the ITA Midwest Championships on Friday.

Three Irish Seniors To Start Season At Maryland Invitational

Sept. 22, 2005

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THREE IRISH SENIORS TO START SEASON AT MARYLAND INVITATIONAL: Seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), Kelly Nelson (St. Petersburg, Fla./Shorecrest Preparatory School), and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) will take part in the Maryland Invitational this weekend, marking the commencement of the 2005-06 season for the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team. Play will run Friday through Sunday at the Tennis Center at College Park with a field featuring six other schools.

MARYLAND INVITATIONAL FORMAT: The Maryland Invitational will take place at the Tennis Center at College Park on the campus of the University of Maryland from Friday through Sunday. Seven teams will be participating: Duke, LSU, Maryland, Notre Dame, Washington State, West Virginia, and Yale. Action will begin at 8:30 a.m. (EST) on Friday. The tournament will feature four 16-player singles draws and three eight-team draws in doubles.

IRISH DRAWS: Seniors Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) will participate in the “A” flight in both singles and doubles, while another senior, Kelly Nelson (St. Petersburg, Fla./Shorecrest Preparatory School), will return to competitive action for the first time in nearly two years by playing in the “B” flight in singles. On Friday, Connelly will open play by taking on Rashmee Patil (who played No. 2 for Yale last spring) at 8:30 a.m. (EST). A win would send her into a quarterfinal match against the second seed, 31st-ranked Ramona But of the host school. Stastny will face another Bulldog at the same time, taking on Janet Kim. She would take on the “A” flight’s top seed, #5-ranked Daniela Bercek of Duke, in the quarters. Nelson will face Monica Lyskawa, who played Nos. 2 and 3 last season for West Virginia, the fifth-place finisher in the BIG EAST Conference. In the second round, she would play the top seed in the “B” flight, Aimee Kim, who played Nos. 3 and 4 for Yale last spring. In addition to two rounds of singles on Friday, there will be one round of doubles. Connelly and Stastny — who will team up for the first time ever — will continue the trend of Irish-Bulldogs matchups, as they face Aimee and Janet Kim in the opening round of the “A” flight.

ND IN THE MARYLAND INVITATIONAL: This weekend marks just the second time ever that members of the Notre Dame women’s tennis team have traveled to College Park, Md., for competition. The previous occasion came in 2000-01, when the Irish participated in the Maryland Invitational. Notre Dame claimed three singles crowns in that tournament, as then-freshman Caylan Leslie won the “A” flight, fellow rookie Emily Neighbours captured the “C” flight, and Berica Day took the “D” flight.

RANKED PLAYERS IN THE MARYLAND INVITATIONAL: The Maryland Invitational will feature four nationally-ranked singles players and three ranked doubles teams. In singles, Duke’s Daniela Bercek is fifth, Maryland’s Ramona But is 31st, Ekaterina Burduli is 45th, and Celia Deltour of Duke is 99th. Bercek and Daniela Robinson check in at 11th in doubles, while But and Marianne Baker are 50th and Lauren Seaman and Tiffany Tucker from LSU are 60th.

IRISH HEAD COACH: Jay Louderback is in his 17th season at Notre Dame with a 283-147 (.659) record and his 26th year as a collegiate coach with a 487-325 (.600) mark. He ranks fifth among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories. Louderback’s Irish have finished in the national top 30 in each of the last 13 seasons and have won 12 conference titles. Since the preseason of the 1992-93 season, Louderback’s teams have been in the national top 30 in 202 of 204 sets of ITA rankings. After taking over a program looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance, Louderback has helped Notre Dame to the NCAAs 12 times in the last 13 years (which only 10 other schools have done), including five appearances in the round of 16 and a 1996 quarterfinal finish. 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 10 years in the BIG EAST. In his time at Notre Dame, Louderback’s players have earned All-America honors 15 times, won four national ITA awards, and earned 20 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 12 to the NCAA doubles tournament. His players have dominated the University awards during Louderback’s tenure, leading all sports in both Byron V. Kanaley awards (six) and Francis Patrick O’Connor awards (six). His family was honored with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tennis Family of the Year Award for 2002. The Arkansas City, Kan., native, and 1976 graduate of Wichita State arrived at Notre Dame prior to the 1989-90 season after coaching for seven years at his alma mater and three years (men and women) at Iowa State.

TWO SINGLES PLAYERS, A PAIR OF DOUBLES TEAMS EARN PRESEASON NATIONAL RANKINGS: Junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) were listed #2 in doubles to lead the Notre Dame contingent represented in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) preseason national singles and doubles rankings, released earlier this month. Catrina Thompson, at 27th, and sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School), at 54th, both earned career-best rankings in singles, while Buck and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) — formerly the #1-ranked doubles team in juniors action — were 60th in doubles. Notre Dame is one of just nine schools (along with California, Florida, Georgia, Northwestern, Pepperdine, USC, Stanford, and TCU) to feature both two ranked doubles teams and two of the top 55 players in singles. The Irish have multiple players among the top 55 in the nation for the first time since the first set of spring rankings in 1998-99, when current assistant coach Michelle Dasso was eighth, Becky Varnum was 47th, and Jennifer Hall came in 54th. The Thompsons, who became the first ND team ever to be ranked #1 last spring, are behind only another team of juniors, Caroline Basu of Germany and Shadisha Robinson, the University of Georgia team that ended last season ranked #1 and with a 25-3 record.

NELSON BACK IN ACTION: Senior Kelly Nelson (St. Petersburg, Fla./Shorecrest Preparatory School) will return to collegiate action this weekend for the first time in nearly two years. She missed all of last season due to injury and last saw competitive collegiate action in the 2003-04 Midwest Blast at the University of Illinois from Nov. 7-9, 2003.

HITTING THE ROAD TO START: This will be the seventh consecutive season that the Irish begin the season on the road. The last time Notre Dame opened at home was 1998-99, when the Eck Classic lifted the lid on Sept. 18.

CURRENT IRISH IN FALL ACTION: See pdf for the records of current Irish players in fall play:

STREAKS: The following streaks are active heading into this weekend:

– Lauren Connelly has won three consecutive three-set matches [last loss: 3/12/04 vs. BYU’s Sofia Holden 7-6, 2-6, 6-2]

– Lauren Connelly has won six consecutive singles matches against BIG EAST Conference players (8-1 career record) [only loss: 4/12/03 vs. Miami’s Sara Robbins 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (10-4)]

– Kristina Stastny has won nine consecutive doubles matches indoors [last loss: 1/23/05 vs. Vanderbilt’s Ferrell/Taylor 8-0]

– Kristina Stastny has won nine consecutive doubles matches at home [last loss: 1/23/05 vs. Vanderbilt’s Ferrell/Taylor 8-0]

Brook Buck has won three consecutive fall singles matches [last loss: 10/24/04 vs. Northwestern’s Cristelle Grier 6-4, 6-1]

Catrina Thompson has won 25 consecutive matches when taking the opening set [last loss: 3/27/04 vs. Wake Forest’s Katie Martzolf 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-4), 1-0 (11-9)]

Brook Buck has won 20 consecutive matches when taking the opening set (21-1 career record) [only loss: 9/19/04 vs. Denver’s Jenny Trettin 1-6, 6-3, 6-1]

Christian Thompson has won all seven of her career singles matches against BIG EAST Conference opponents

Catrina Thompson has won seven consecutive singles matches indoors [last loss: 2/18/05 vs. Duke’s Katie Blaszak 6-1, 6-7, 6-2]

Catrina Thompson has won five consecutive singles matches in the Eck Tennis Pavilion [last loss: 2/18/05 vs. Duke’s Katie Blaszak 6-1, 6-7, 6-2]

IRISH TO FACE SEVEN TOP-25 TEAMS: Nine teams that finished the 2004-05 campaign in the top 20 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings – including seven that reached the final 16 of the NCAA Championship – will highlight the 2005-06 schedule. In all, 19 of the 23 teams on Notre Dame’s schedule ended last year ranked among the top 55 in the nation, while 16 earned bids to the NCAAs. Among the top challenges on the Irish slate will be matches with USC (finished 7th, NCAA quarterfinals, Oct. 14, home, exhibition), Wake Forest (26th, second round, Feb. 11, away), North Carolina (11th, quarterfinals, Feb. 12, away), Tennessee (18th, second round, Feb. 18, home), Harvard (16th, round of 16, Feb. 19, home), Brigham Young (22nd, second round, Feb. 25, home), Duke (17th, second round, March 15, Orlando, Fla.), Texas (3rd, NCAA runner-up, March 20, away), Vanderbilt (8th, round of 16, March 29, away), Northwestern (5th, round of 16, April 5, home), and Tulane (15th, round of 16, April 15, away).

ND-USC TO CONTINUE “THE BATTLE BEFORE THE WAR”: On Friday, Oct. 14, Notre Dame and USC will meet in both men’s and women’s tennis in exhibition action the day before the schools do battle in football in Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the fourth consecutive time the squads have done this at Notre Dame the day before the football matchup.

WE ARE FAMILY: Notre Dame women’s tennis has long featured members of the same family on its teams. For the fourth consecutive season, Notre Dame will have a set of sisters on its roster: junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.). They last year became the first set of Irish sisters — and first twins of either sex — to both become All-Americans. The previous three seasons had featured two pairs of sisters on each Irish roster, but that has changed with the graduation of Maggie Donohue in 2003 and Sarah Jane Connelly last spring. Another family connection was added last season, as head coach Jay Louderback’s daughter, Bailey Louderback (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.), joined the team. He became the 11th Notre Dame coach — just the second in a women’s sport (along with softball’s Brian Boulac) — to have coached his son or daughter with the Irish.

CHANGES TO THE ITA RANKINGS: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) recently announced some changes to its national rankings for the 2005-06 season: (1) It will use one set of points for wins and also a tighter set of points, with less gaps. This set of points will be the same set that has been used for the season’s first computer rankings in the past; (2) There will be bonus points awarded for road wins; (3) The rankings that are run at the time of NCAA Championship selections will be run twice and the second run of the rankings will be the published ranking; (4) There will be expanded, unpublished rankings (and values for opponents): 76-125 for team, 126-175 for singles, and 61-90 for doubles; (5) The first computer rankings (for team) will take place 2 weeks earlier on March 8; (6) The singles and doubles rankings from Fall results will go back to being a computer ranking; it had been done by committee vote the past three years.

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 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, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.