Oct. 26, 2001
MADISON, Wisc. – The University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team had a pair of players qualify for the main draw and two doubles teams advance Friday at the Omni Hotels Region IV Championships. The two doubles teams, as well as six singles players will be in action as play continues Saturday.
Junior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash.) and freshman Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla.) both won matches Friday in the the third and final round of singles qualifying. Cunha, seeded fourth in the qualifying draw, beat Purdue’s Shawna Zuccarini 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, while Connelly downed Minnesota’s Brandi Watts 6-0, 6-3. Connelly improves to 6-1 in singles in her collegiate career.
The doubles main draw got underway Friday and two Irish pairs advanced. Seniors Becky Varnum (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Lindsey Green (El Cajon, Calif.), the top seeded and 23rd-ranked team, were 8-2 winners over Iowa’s Deni Alexandrova and Steffi Hoch. Connelly and Cunha also won in doubles, defeating Toledo’s Natyshak and Wasielewski 8-3. Sophomores Alicia Salas (Engelwood, Colo.) and Emily Neighbours (Indianapolis, Ind.) dropped their first-round tilt with Katie Dougherty and Lindsay Martin of Wisconsin 8-6. Two rounds of doubles will be played Saturday morning.
Classmate Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif.) was forced to withdraw from the singles and doubles draws due to a shoulder injury. Leslie was seeded seventh in singles and was scheduled to play doubles with senior Nina Vaughan (Corona del Mar, Calif.).
Two rounds of singles will be played Saturday afternoon. Top-seeded Varnum is slated to take on Andrea Yung of Northwestern at 12:00 p.m., while Salas will play ninth-seeded Amanda Field of Indiana at the same time. Green will face fifth-seeded Maring Piriou of Northwestern and 61st-ranked and sixth-seeded Vaughan will face a qualifier at 1:30 p.m. At 3:00 p.m., Connelly plays Northwestern’s Jessica Rush. Cunha will face Michigan’s Joanne Musgrove, who lost in the final round of qualifying, but gained entry into the main draw as a lucky loser.
The Omni Hotels Region IV Championships consist of a 64-player singles draw and a 64-team doubles draw featuring the top players in the midwest in indoor action. A 64-player qualifying tournament in singles is also held with eight advancing to the main draw to join the 56 players receiving automatic berths. Three victories are needed to move through qualifying. 16 singles players and eight doubles teams are seeded in the main draws. The singles finalists and the doubles champion of the main draw of each regional championship advance to the Nov. 8-11 Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in Dallas, Texas, the premiere indoor collegiate tennis event of the season.
The Irish are trying to continue their track record of success at the Region IV Championships. A season ago, Notre Dame captured both the singles (Michelle Dasso) and doubles (Dasso and Varnum) titles and advanced four players to the quarterfinals in the main draw of singles. Dasso and Varnum also captured the doubles title in 1999, while Dasso won in singles in 1997, as well.
Varnum has a particularly exceptional track record at the Region IV Championships. She has reached the semifinals, the round of 16 and the quarterfinals, respectively, in her three previous singles appearances, accruing a 9-3 record. She has had even more success in doubles, registering a 15-1 mark after winning the past two titles and reaching the semifinals in 1998.
All-American Varnum is the top seed in singles in 2001, while she and Green are the top-seeded doubles team. This marks the third straight year Varnum has earned a seed in both singles and doubles and the second consecutive year she has shared the top seed in doubles. Notre Dame has had the top seed in singles in each of the last four Region IV Championships as Dasso earned the No. 1 seed in each of the last three events. The Irish have also held the top doubles seed in the past two years. Two other Irish players are seeded in the singles draw: Vaughan (6th) and Leslie (7th).
The Omni Hotels Region IV Championships will go through Tuesday with the first two rounds of singles and the second and third rounds of doubles to be played on Saturday. Sunday will feature the singles round of 16 and the quarterfinals and semifinals in doubles. The quarterfinals and semifinals of singles and the doubles final will be played Monday, while the singles final is scheduled for Tuesday.
Omni Hotels Region IV Championships
(4) Katie Cunha (ND) d. Shawna Zuccarini (Purdue) 7-6 (8-6), 6-1
Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Brandi Watts (Minnesota) 6-0, 6-3
(1) #23 Lindsey Green/Becky Varnum (ND) d. Deni Alexandrova/Steffi Hoch (Iowa) 8-2
Katie Dougherty/Lindsay Martin (Wisconsin) d. Emily Neighbours/Alicia Salas (ND) 8-6
Connelly/Cunha (ND) d. Natyshak/Wasielewski (Toledo) 8-3
Note: Numbers in parentheses indicate seeding. Numbers preceding name are ITA national rankings.