April 3, 2003
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The 27th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team extended its winning streak to a season-high five matches with a 6-1 victory over Indiana Thursday afternoon at the IU Tennis Center. The Irish (13-7) have won nine of their last 11 contests, including five victories over Big Ten Conference opponents in the past two weeks. The win over the Hoosiers also capped off a highly-successful six-day road trip for Notre Dame, as the Irish picked off No. 35 Ohio State and No. 24 Illinois before dispatching IU.
Veteran Notre Dame head coach Jay Louderback made a minor adjustment in his singles lineup, resting junior Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.), the nation’s 77th-ranked player, and inserting freshman Jennifer Smith (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg H.S.) in the No. 6 position. Smith rewarded her coach’s decision, pasting Indiana’s Jessica Groth, 6-0, 6-1, and teaming with junior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.) for a comfortable 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles.
Moments after the victory by Leslie and Smith, Notre Dame clinched the doubles point, as freshman Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and senior captain Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.) registered an 8-4 win at the No. 1 flight over the IU pair of Sarah Batty and Martina Grimm. The victory marked the seventh time in as many matches, and the 10th time in the last 12 matches that the Irish have captured the doubles point.
Notre Dame then wasted little time in nailing down the match victory, winning the first three singles contests off the court in dominating fashion. Smith was the first to finish with her triumph over Groth, followed by Connelly, who charted a 6-1, 6-1 conquest of IU’s Sophie Rychlik at the No. 5 position. The Irish then turned to their top singles player to seal the win, and the 33rd-ranked Leslie responded, nearly duplicating Smith’s singles performance with a 6-1, 6-0 win over the Hoosiers’ Linda Tran.
Once the match had been decided, sophomore Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) chalked up her ninth consecutive singles win, coming back to defeat Dominika Walterova in a third-set match tiebreaker, 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-6). In her last 11 matches, Connelly has dropped the first set on seven occasions, but has rallied to win each time. She is 12-2 this season in matches extending beyond two sets (7-2 in three-setters and 5-0 in match tiebreakers) and is 9-9 when losing the first set.
Freshman Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) collected the final point for Notre Dame, also going to a third-set match tiebreaker to defeat Grimm, 6-1, 5-7, 1-0 (10-4). It was the fourth consecutive three-set match for the Irish rookie, who has won three of those marathon contests and is now 4-1 in match tiebreakers this season.
Notre Dame will get a much-deserved rest before returning to the hardcourts on Saturday, April 12 for a BIG EAST Conference showdown at 19th-ranked Miami. Following that contest, the Irish will have two more weeks off before taking part in the BIG EAST Championships April 25-27 in Coral Gables, Fla.
— ND —
#27 Notre Dame 6, Indiana 1
No. 1: *#33 Caylan Leslie (ND) d. Linda Tran (IU), 6-1, 6-0
No. 2: Sarah Batty (IU) d. Katie Cunha (ND), 6-3, 6-3
No. 3: Kristina Stastny (ND) d. Martina Grimm (IU), 6-1, 5-7, 1-0 (10-4)
No. 4: Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Dominika Walterova (IU), 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-6)
No. 5: Lauren Connelly (ND) d. Sophie Rychlik (IU), 6-1, 6-1
No. 6: Jennifer Smith (ND) d. Jessica Groth (IU), 6-0, 6-1
Order of finish: 6, 5, 1*, 2, 4, 3
No. 1: *L. Connelly/Cunha (ND) d. Batty/Grimm (IU), 8-4
No. 2: Tran/Walterova (IU) d. S.J. Connelly/Stastny (ND), 9-7
No. 3: Leslie/Smith (ND) d. Groth/Rychlik (IU), 8-3
Order of finish: 3, 1*, 2
* indicates clinching match