Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Women's Tennis Opens Home Season Against Yale Saturday

Jan. 27, 2000

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The 18th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team opens its home schedule this weekend when the Yale Bulldogs travel to the Eck Tennis Pavilion for a 1:00 p.m. match on Sat., Jan. 29. The Irish then will send two doubles teams to the Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships Feb. 3-6.

UP NEXT FOR THE IRISH: Notre Dame will play host to Yale in the first meeting between the teams in nine years and the season-opening match for the Bulldogs on Sat., Jan. 29. Seniors Sara Naison-Phillips and Somer Khanlarian will lead Yale. The Irish and Bulldogs have played three times, with Notre Dame winning in 1990 and 1991 and Yale claiming the first meeting in 1988.

ROLEX INDOOR INVITES: Two Irish doubles teams have qualified for the Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships to be held at the Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas, Feb. 3-6. The team of junior All-American Michelle Dasso (Long Grove, Ill.) and sophomore Becky Varnum (Colorado Springs, Colo.), winners of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Region doubles title in the fall, and freshman Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash.) and junior Kimberly Guy (Portola Valley, Calif.) also earned a bid with their ITA national ranking of 15. Notre Dame joins Florida and Stanford as the only schools with two doubles teams in the 16-team field. The Irish last had a doubles team in Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships back in 1995 when Wendy Crabtree and Holyn Lord lost to UCLA’s Jane and Stephanie Chi in the first round.

HAWAII REVIEW: Notre Dame finished with a 2-1 record in its season-opening trip to Hawaii with wins over Hawaii and Washington and a loss to Duke. The Irish had their match against Tennessee was rained out. Notre Dame blanked Hawaii 9-0 in its first match before losing 5-1 to Duke. Sophomore Lindsey Green (El Cajon, Calif.) was Notre Dame’s only winner at No. 5 singles against the fourth-ranked Blue Devils. Doubles were cancelled due to rain.

Against 23rd-ranked Washington, Becky Varnum, senior Kelly Zalinski (Greer, S.C.) and Green each won in singles to give Notre Dame a 3-2 lead. Kimberly Guy then gave the Irish a commanding 4-2 lead with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8) win over Colleen Gray at No. 6 singles. Green and Zalinski clinched the victory at No. 3 doubles.

ITA RANKINGS: The Irish stand 18th among the 75 teams ranked by the ITA after finishing 1999 ranked 15th. Junior Michelle Dasso and sophomore Becky Varnum enter the season ranked 42nd and 101st in singles and are 10th in doubles. Freshman Katie Cunha and junior Kimberly Guy are not far behind at 15th in the country in doubles.

IRISH FACE TOUGH SLATE: In addition to opening the season with two matches against top 25 teams, the Irish are scheduled to meet at least 20 ranked teams, including matches at eighth-ranked Pepperdine, 11th-ranked Wake Forest and 15th-ranked William & Mary. Notre Dame’s 10-match home schedule features five matches against Midwest region teams, BIG EAST rival Miami (Fla.) and 21st-ranked Kentucky. The Irish will make their seventh consecutive appearance at the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships at Wisconsin in February. Notre Dame will defend its 1999 BIG EAST championship April 20-23, at Miami.

ZALINSKI APPROACHES SCHOOL RECORD: Senior Kelly Zalinski needs just 11 more singles wins and 30 more combined singles and doubles wins to match Jennifer Hall (1995-99) for the most singles and combined singles and doubles victories in Irish history. Zalinski enters the Yale match with 105 wins in singles wins and 74 in doubles for a total of 179. Hall compiled 116 singles wins and 209 singles and doubles. With her five victories in the fall, Zalinski joined Hall and Marisa Velasco (1995-99) as the only Notre Dame women’s tennis players to win 100 singles matches under Jay Louderback.

GREEN OFF TO FAST START: Sophomore Lindsey Green began the 2000 season with three wins at No. 5 singles and pair of wins at No. 3 doubles with Kelly Zalinski. She rolled to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Hawaii’s Georgeina Sesto and then dropped just two games in beating Duke’s 97th-ranked Brooke Siebel 6-2, 6-0. She wrapped up the weekend with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Washington’s Zeta Wagner. Her singles record stands at 8-5 after her 5-5 mark during the fall. Green has teamed with Zalinski for a 10-5 record and wins against Hawaii and Washington. She opened her fall season by winning both the singles and doubles titles at the Indiana Invitational.

VARNUM WINS COTTON BOWL: Sophomore Becky Varnum spent part of her mid-semester break preparing for the dual-match season as the fifth seed of the 1999 Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas. Varnum dropped just 13 games in five matches on her way to winning the title. After a pair of 6-1, 6-1 wins, Varnum beat Tennessee’s top-seeded Alison Ojeda 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. Her toughest match was a 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 win over ninth-seeded Saber Pierce in the semifinals. Varnum claimed the title with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Northwestern’s sixth-seeded Shannon Duffy in the final.

HEAD COACH JAY LOUDERBACK: Jay Louderback is in his 11th year as head coach of the Irish, compiling a 179-90 (.665) record at Notre Dame and a career mark of 383-268 (.588) in 19-plus seasons of coaching. 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 IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: Notre Dame leads all Midwest Region schools with three of the top 11 players ranked among ITA Midwest Region singles players. Michelle Dasso is the top-ranked regional singles player, while Becky Varnum is seventh and Kelly Zalinski 11th. Sophomore Nina Vaughan (Corona del Mar, Calif.) is 25th. Three of the 15 regionally-ranked doubles teams hail from Notre Dame, more than any other Midwest school. Dasso and Varnum are the top-ranked team in the Midwest with Cunha and Guy 10th and Lindsey Green and Zalinski 12th.

IRISH SWEEP ITA MIDWEST DOUBLES: Michelle Dasso and Becky Varnum played doubles together for the first time at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Region doubles championships and went 5-0 to win the regional doubles title, the first for a Notre Dame team since 1994. Dasso and Varnum beat Ohio State’s seventh-ranked and second-seeded Kristy Dascoli and Briana Harris 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals and then won the 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 over Purdue’s Jennifer Embry and Shannon Taheny to win the championship.

The main draw doubles win came on the final day of the championship to complete a sweep of the doubles titles after Katie Cunha and Kimberly Guy won the consolation doubles title. Cunha and Guy, who posted a win over Iowa’s sixth-ranked Toni Neykova and Shera Wiegler earlier in the fall, lost in the first round of the main draw before advancing through six rounds of the consolation draw to win. They beat Cincinnati’s Kara Molony and Lisa Pruett 8-5 in the consolation final.

1999 FALL REVIEW: As the top combined women’s and men’s tennis programs in the Midwest, Notre Dame was selected to play in the inaugural TEAM TENNIS National Collegiate Championships held Oct. 1-3, at Stanford. The event, sponsored by Billie Jean King’s WORLD TEAM TENNIS organization, featured sets of men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles. The Irish team of Michelle Dasso, Kelly Zalinski, Ryan Sachire and Trent Miller finished sixth out of the 16 invited teams. Notre Dame opened with a 30-12 win over Illinois before falling 26-24 to South Carolina. The Irish beat Tennessee 29-19 in the consolation round before losing 28-20 to third-seeded Mississippi.

In other fall results Dasso reached the quarterfinals of the T. Rowe Price National Clay Court Championships for the second consecutive year but was forced to pull out of the ITA All-American Championships due to injury. Lindsey Green and Katie Cunha won their singles flights at the Indiana Invitational, while Green and Zalinski won the top doubles flight. Nina Vaughan beat Iowa’s Shera Wiegler in the first round of the Illinois Invitational, while the Irish dropped a 5-4 exhibition dual match to USC without Dasso in the lineup.

IRISH INK TWO: Caylan Leslie and Alicia Salas, two nationally ranked junior players, signed national letters of intent in November to attend Notre Dame next year. Leslie, a native of Newport Beach, Calif., will bring much experience to Notre Dame with a United States Tennis Association national girls’ 18s ranking of 19. The lefthander currently is a senior at Corona del Mar High School, the same high school as Irish sophomore Nina Vaughan. Salas, a native of Engelwood, Colo., hails from Cherry Creek High School, a perennial tennis power in Colorado, and is ranked 76th in USTA national rankings. She enters her senior year having won three state singles titles and will be looking for her fourth state crown in the spring. Only current Irish sophomore Becky Varnum, from Colorado Springs, Colo., won four Colorado High School singles titles.