April 18, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The 13th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team travels to Miami this weekend for the BIG EAST Championships. The Irish will be looking to defend the title they won last year by beating the host Hurricanes 4-2 in the championship match. The Irish completed their most successful regular season under 11th-year head coach Jay Louderback by beating Miami 6-3 on Saturday.
BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Notre Dame will be making its fifth appearance at the BIG EAST Championship after winning in 1996, 1997 and 1999 and finishing second to Miami in 1998. The 13th-ranked Irish have earned the top seed of the 13 teams in the tournament for the fifth straight year. Miami, currently ranked 43rd in the country with a 9-11, is seeded second. Third-seeded Syracuse is ranked 75th, while Boston College is seeded fourth. Notre Dame, Miami and Syracuse receive first-round byes as the top three seeds. The Irish will play their first match on Fri., April 21, against the winner of Thursday’s match between eighth-seeded Providence and ninth-seeded Rutgers. In their first appearance in 1996, the Irish did not drop a match in beating eighth-seeded St. John’s, fourth-seeded Boston College and second-seeded Miami 4-0 to claim the title. In 1997, the top-seeded Irish blanked ninth-seeded Providence, fourth-seeded Boston College and second-seeded Miami 4-0 to win their second consecutive title. The Hurricanes snapped Notre Dame’s streak by upending the top-seeded Irish 4-2 in the 1998 championship match after the Irish had beaten eight-seeded Georgetown and fifth-seeded West Virginia 4-0. Notre Dame reclaimed the title in 1999 by beating Rutgers and Syracuse 4-0, before downing Miami 4-2 in the final.
MIAMI REVIEW: The Irish won four of six singles matches and won two doubles matches to beat 43rd-ranked Miami 6-3 on Saturday outdoors at the Courtney Tennis Center. Kelly Zalinski beat Marcy Hora 6-3, 6-3 at No. 3 singles to give the Irish a 1-0 lead before junior All-American and 16th-ranked Michelle Dasso beat Alanna Broderick 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 singles for Notre Dame’s second point. Sophomore Nina Vaughan made it 3-0 when she beat Katia Bogomolova 6-4, 6-1 at No. 4 singles. Meredith Laughlin won Miami’s first match when she beat sophomore Becky Varnum 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 singles. Irish freshman Katie Cunha won a tight third set to beat Eva Jimenez 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 at No. 6 singles for a 4-1 Notre Dame lead. Miami’s Lauren Scaglione forced the outcome to be determined in doubles by holding off sophomore Lindsey Green 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 at No. 5 singles. The 27th-ranked team of Dasso and Varnum clinched the win with an 8-2 victory over Bogomolova and Hora at No. 1 doubles. Green and Zalinski beat Broderick and Jimenez 8-3 at No. 2 doubles, before Laughlin and Scaglione completed the 6-3 match with an 8-1 win over Cunha and senior Sarah Scaringe at No. 3 doubles.
IRISH CONCLUDE BEST REGULAR SEASON: Notre Dame’s win over Miami on Saturday gave the Irish their best regular-season finish ever under 11th-year head coach Jay Louderback at 19-5, topping the 18-6 mark of the 1996 team that finished 22-7. Notre Dame already has clinched its seventh season with fewer than 10 losses in 11 seasons under Louderback.
ZALINSKI SETS SCHOOL RECORD: Senior Kelly Zalinski set the Notre Dame school record for career singles wins with 117 in the final regular-season home match of her career against Miami on Saturday in a 6-3, 6-3 win over Marcy Hora at No. 3 singles. She broke the record of 116 set just last year by former Irish All-American Jennifer Hall (1995-99). Zalinski also needs just three more combined singles and doubles wins to match Hall for the most total victories in Irish history. Zalinski enters the BIG EAST Championship with 117 wins in singles and 89 in doubles for a total of 206. Hall compiled 116 singles wins and 209 singles and doubles. With five singles victories in the fall, Zalinski joined Hall and Marissa Velasco (1995-99) as the only Notre Dame women’s tennis players to win 100 singles matches under Jay Louderback.
HEAD COACH JAY LOUDERBACK REACHES 400TH WIN: Jay Louderback — in his 21st year of coaching — reached the 400-win milestone on Saturday, brining his career record to 400-272 (.595). He is in his 11th year as head coach of the Irish and has compiled a 196-94 (.676) record at Notre Dame. His 1999 team won 23 dual matches, matching his ’95 Irish for Notre Dame’s most wins at the NCAA Division I level. He has guided the Irish to NCAA championship appearances in six of the last seven years, including a national quarterfinal appearance in 1996. His teams have finished among the top 20 teams in the country in five of the last seven years and in the top 30 in all but two of his years at Notre Dame. The Arkansas City, Kan., native, and 1976 graduate of Wichita State has been named the ITA regional coach of the year twice in 1995 and 1998 and was named BIG EAST coach of the year after leading the Irish to BIG EAST championship titles in 1996, 1997 and 1999. His Notre Dame players have won 10 All-America honors in his 10 years.
IRISH SINGLES SOLID: Only four teams have beaten the Irish singles lineup in 2000: Duke, USC, Stanford and Pepperdine. The Irish have split six matches with Wake Forest and Northwestern and won four of six singles matches against Washington, North Carolina and Miami and twice against William & Mary. Notre Dame won five singles matches against Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa, BYU and Michigan and swept Hawaii, Yale, Maryland, Kentucky, Kansas, Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana. Overall, the Irish are 103-40 (.720) in singles in dual matches for an average lead after singles of approximately 4.3 to 1.7 per match. Notre Dame has won at least four singles matches in 18 of the 24 dual matches.
IRISH AT THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: Kelly Zalinski has not lost a match in her three years of BIG EAST championship play, and three of her teammates also boast perfect singles records. Zalinski has a 13-0 record that includes six singles wins and seven doubles. Junior Kimberly Guy and Becky Varnum both have 2-0 singles records while Varnum also is 2-1 in doubles. Michelle Dasso has won the only singles match she has completed and is 3-2 in doubles. Sophomore Lindsey Green posted a perfect 3-0 doubles record a season ago, while senior Sarah Scaringe won her two doubles matches in the ’97 BIG EAST Championship.
DASSO IN DUAL MATCHES: Junior All-American Michelle Dasso continues to be one of the top singles players in dual matches during the Jay Louderback era at Notre Dame. She has compiled a record of 66-12 (.846) during her two-plus seasons — 42-9 at No. 1, 21-3 at No. 2 and 3-0 at No. 3 singles. Only four other Irish players have won more dual singles matches under Louderback, including 75 by senior Kelly Zalinski. Dasso has won 33 of her last 38 dual singles matches at No. 1 singles. She also needs just four more wins to become the first junior and fourth Irish player under Louderback with at least 100 singles victories.
GREEN AND ZALINSKI FORM TALENTED TANDEM: Senior Kelly Zalinski and junior Lindsey Green continue to be a solid doubles team for the Irish with a 24-9 record, including 16-4 in dual matches. The pair went 5-3 at No. 3 doubles to start 2000, including a win against North Carolina to clinch the 5-4 victory and a win over Maren Haus and Jackie Houston of Wake Forest. After that win, the duo moved up to No. 2 doubles and have a 10-1 record at that spot. They saved three match points before beating Kentucky’s 24th-ranked Leigh Bradwell and Brooke Skeen 9-8 (7-3) on March 5. The pair defeated Pepperdine’s 45th-ranked Kurz and Mueller 8-3 on March 18. Green and Zalinski first paired together midway through the 1999 season and went 13-4 at No. 3 doubles.
GREEN LEADS IN DUAL MATCHES: Sophomore Lindsey Green leads the Irish with a 19-5 record in dual singles matches and a 17-4 record in dual doubles matches. Green’s 24 overall and 19 dual-match singles wins tops the team along with No. 1 singles player Michelle Dasso, while her 25 doubles wins is tied with Zalinski. She has 10 wins in her last 12 singles matches.
IRISH UNBEATEN AT HOME: Notre Dame concluded the regular season with a 10-0 record at home, its first unbeaten season at home since 1990. The Irish were 8-0 at home that season in head coach Jay Louderback’s first year at Notre Dame. Seven of those wins came in the Eck Tennis Pavilion, the last season the Irish had an unbeaten record in the indoor facility.
VARNUM WINS SIX STRAIGHT: Sophomore Becky Varnum has won six consecutive matches at No. 1 doubles with Michelle Dasso, the most recent win clinching Notre Dame’s 6-3 win over Miami on Saturday. Varnum played a large role in Notre Dame’s win over 16th-ranked William & Mary on April 9, with her win over 53rd-ranked Delphine Troch at No. 2 singles. After dropping the first set, Varnum rallied to win a third-set tiebreaker to give the Irish a 4-2 lead after singles in the last singles match completed. She later clinched the win at No. 1 doubles with Dasso. After an 11-12 start in singles, Varnum has won seven of her last 10 singles matches, including wins over two ranked opponents. She and Dasso have a 17-5 record in doubles and a 12-3 mark at No. 1 doubles with a 5-1 record against ranked opponents.
ITA RANKINGS: The Irish stand 13th among the 75 teams ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association after a preseason ranking of 18th. Junior All-American Michelle Dasso is ranked 16th in singles and 27th in doubles with Becky Varnum. Freshman Katie Cunha and junior Kimberly Guy are ranked 47th in doubles.
CUNHA FILLS IN, CLINCHES WINS: Freshman Katie Cunha has made an impressive move into the singles lineup at No. 6 singles with a 12-1 record at that position and a 13-1 overall record in dual singles matches. Cunha dropped just one set in winning her first five singles matches at No. 6. In her first match against 12th-ranked Northwestern, Cunha beat Jennifer Lutgert 6-4, 6-4 after trailing 1-4 in the second set. Her 6-3 fall record in singles included two losses to Lutgert before her win in the dual match. Against Iowa, Kentucky and Purdue, Cunha’s singles wins clinched the victories for the Irish. Cunha has won her last seven matches, six in straight sets.
IRISH FACE TOUGH SLATE: Notre Dame’s 2000 regular season included matches versus 10 top-25 opponents in 24 matches. Entering the BIG EAST Championships, the Irish have played 22 ranked opponents in 24 matches. The Irish made their seventh consecutive appearance at the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships in Feb. The Irish are scheduled to play or have played eight matches against the top 17 teams, including three of the top five.
VAUGHAN WINS KEY MATCHES: A much improved player from a year ago when she was slowed by injury in the second half of the season, sophomore Nina Vaughan has compiled an overall singles record of 21-12 and 16-7 in dual matches. Her overall singles record includes wins over Iowa’s Shera Wiegler and USC’s Veronika Safarova in the fall, while her 16 dual singles wins are third most on the team. She recorded her first career win over a ranked opponent when she defeated North Carolina’s 101st-ranked Kendrick Bunn 6-4, 6-1 at No. 4 singles. Vaughan then rallied for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Wake Forest’s Maren Haus at No. 4 singles the next day. She enters the BIG EAST Championship with wins in her last seven matches and in 11 of her last 12, losing only 7-6 in the third set to Pepperdine’s Paolo Palencia.
20-WIN SEASON: The Irish need just one more win this season to reach the 20-win plateau for the third consecutive season and for the fourth time in the last five years. Notre Dame went 23-7 last year, matching the 1996 team for the best record for the Irish under head coach Jay Louderback and at the NCAA Division I level.