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Women's Tennis Prepares For NCAA First And Second Rounds

May 9, 2000

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The 13th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team will play host to NCAA first and second round matches at the Courtney Tennis Center on May 13-14. The Irish will face Illinois-Chicago in the first round on Sat., May 13, at 2:00 p.m. South Carolina and Western Michigan will meet in the first match at 10:00 a.m., with the winners to meet on Sun., May 14, at 12:00 p.m.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Notre Dame earned a No. 13-16 seed and was selected as one of 16 first- and second-round sites for the 64-team NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships. In first round matches at the Courtney Tennis Center, the Irish will take on Illinois-Chicago on Sat., May 13, at 2:00 p.m., and South Carolina and Western Michigan will play at 10:00 a.m. First-round winners will play a second-round match on Sun., May 15, at 12:00 p.m. with the winner advancing to the round of 16 at Pepperdine. Tickets can be purchased through the Notre Dame ticket office at (219) 631-7356 at a cost of $5 for adults and $3 for college students with identification, senior citizens over 55 and children 16 and under. Notre Dame and UIC will meet in the NCAA first round at the Courtney Tennis Center for the second consecutive season. The Flames enter the match with a 10-12 record after winning their fourth Midwestern Collegiate Conference crown to earn their second NCAA bid. Seeded 49-64, UIC has won all but two of the MCC championships held since the Irish won seven straight titles from 1988-94. Notre Dame has beaten UIC in each of their six meetings, but the two teams had not played since the 1985-86 season prior to 1999. Zvjezdana Malesevic leads the Flames with 12 dual singles wins, while Jacki Farr has nine. South Carolina, seeded 17-20, currently is ranked 21st in the country with a 15-11 record and received an at-large bid for its sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA championships. Sophomore Katarina Markovski is ranked 25th in singles and 38th in doubles with Jennifer Radman. Notre Dame has won two of three meetings with South Carolina, including a 6-2 win in the most recent match in 1996. Western Michigan is ranked 63rd in the country with a 19-6 record and won the Mid-American Conference championship to earn an automatic bid. The Broncos will be making their second NCAA championship appearance and are seeded 33-48. Notre Dame has won nine of 13 matches against Western Michigan and last played the Broncos in 1996, winning 8-1.

IRISH IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: Notre Dame will be making its seventh appearance in the NCAA team championship in the last eight years and has a 7-6 record in its six previous appearances. Kelly Zalinski is 5-2 in singles and 2-2 in doubles, while Michelle Dasso has a 4-1 singles and 2-1 doubles record. Becky Varnum is 2-0 in both singles and doubles, while Lindsey Green is 1-1 in both singles and doubles. Kim Guy is 2-1 in singles and 1-0 in doubles. The Irish have an 11-6 record against the other 63 teams in the NCAA field.

BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP REVIEW: The Irish won just two singles matches in losing just their second match since March in a 5-2 lost to 51st-ranked and second-seeded Miami on April 23, in the final of the BIG EAST championship. Junior All-American Michelle Dasso defeated Alanna Broderick 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 singles, while senior Kelly Zalinski defeated Katia Bogomolova 6-4, 6-0 at No. 3 singles. Miami swept through the bottom of the lineup without losing a set to a take a 3-2 lead. The Hurricanes then won at No. 2 singles to lead 4-2 heading into doubles. Broderick and Eva Jimenez defeated Zalinski and sophomore Lindsey Green 8-5 at No. 2 doubles to clinch the win for Miami. Notre Dame posted shutout wins over Rutgers and Seton Hall to reach the final.

DASSO EARNS THIRD NCAA SINGLES SPOT: Junior All-American Michelle Dasso will be making her third NCAA singles appearance, becoming the third Irish player — joining Jennifer Hall (1996-99) and Wendy Crabtree (1993-96) — under 11th-year head coach Jay Louderback to play in the NCAA singles championship in her first three years. Dasso has compiled a 6-7 record against the other 63 players in the NCAA singles field. With a 27-7 record, all seven of her losses have come against NCAA qualifiers.

VARNUM MAKES NCAA DOUBLES DEBUT: Sophomore Becky Varnum and first-year doubles partner Michelle Dasso, ranked 20th in the country in doubles, have earned one of 32 spots in the NCAA doubles field. Dasso will be making her second NCAA doubles appearance with two different partners, while Varnum will play in her first NCAA doubles championship. Dasso advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals last year with Jennifer Hall. Varnum and Dasso have a 17-5 record in doubles and a 12-3 mark at No. 1 doubles with 5-1 records against both ranked opponents and NCAA doubles qualifiers.

IRISH CONCLUDE BEST REGULAR SEASON: Notre Dame’s win over Miami on April 15, 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, TIES SCHOOL RECORDS: 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 April 15, and added three more wins at the BIG EAST championship to improve her career record to 120-48 (.714). She broke the record of 116 set just last year by former Irish All-American Jennifer Hall (1995-99). Zalinski also has tied Hall’s records of 209 combined singles and doubles wins and 78 dual-match singles victories. 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.

NCAA MATCHES AT NOTRE DAME: The Irish will play host to NCAA championships matches this weekend for the fourth consecutive year. Notre Dame was the site of the 1997 NCAA Midwest Regional when top-seeded South Carolina advanced to the final before losing to Wisconsin. The Courtney Tennis Center next played host to the 1998 NCAA championships when Florida won the NCAA championship. Notre Dame played host to first- and second-round matches in 1999 in the first year of the expanded 64-team NCAA field.

IRISH VS. NCAA FIELD: Eleven of Notre Dame’s 21 wins have come against the other 63 teams in the NCAA championship while the Irish have suffered all six of their losses to NCAA qualifiers.

DASSO, LOUDERBACK WIN BIG EAST AWARDS: Junior Michelle Dasso was named the BIG EAST championship most outstanding player after finishing with a 3-0 record at No. 1 singles. She joined 1996 recipient and former Irish All-American Jennifer Hall as the only Irish players to win the award. Irish head coach Jay Louderback was named BIG EAST coach of the year for the fourth time in Notre Dame’s five years in the conference.

ZALINSKI WINS O’CONNOR AWARD: Senior captain Kelly Zalinski was awarded Notre Dame’s Francis Patrick O’Connor Award last week at the annual All-Sports Banquet. The award is presented upon nomination of head coaches and is given to one male and one female student-athlete who best display the total embodiment of the true spirit of Notre Dame as exemplified by their contributions and inspiration to their teams and possess such characteristics as caring, courage, confidence, encouragement, humility, honesty, humor, kindness and patience. Baseball senior Matt Nussbaum won the men’s award. Zalinski is the third women’s tennis to win the award, joining 1996 winner Holyn Lord and 1994 winner Christy Faustman.

IRISH SINGLES SOLID: Only five teams have beaten the Irish singles lineup in 2000: Duke, USC, Stanford, Pepperdine and Miami. 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, Indiana, Rutgers and Seton Hall. Overall, the Irish are 116-44 (.725) 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 20 of the 27 dual matches.

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 402-273 (.596). He is in his 11th year as head coach of the Irish and has compiled a 198-95 (.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 seven of the last eight 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 and also in 2000. His Notre Dame players have won 10 All-America honors in his 10 years.

DASSO APPROACHES CENTURY MARK: Junior All-American Michelle Dasso enters the UIC match with 99 career singles wins, one win from becoming the first Irish junior and fourth player under 11th-year head coach Jay Louderback to win 100 singles matches. She 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 69-12 (.852) during her two-plus seasons — 45-9 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 78 by senior Kelly Zalinski. Dasso has won 36 of her last 41 dual singles matches at No. 1 singles.

GREEN AND ZALINSKI FORM TALENTED TANDEM: Senior Kelly Zalinski and junior Lindsey Green have been a solid doubles team for the Irish with a 24-10 record, including 16-5 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 an 11-2 record at that spot. Green and Zalinski first paired together midway through the 1999 season and went 13-4 at No. 3 doubles.

IRISH UNBEATEN AT HOME: Notre Dame concluded the regular season and enters the UIC match with a 10-0 record at home, its first unbeaten regular 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.

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 April 15. 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 13 of her last 15 singles matches, including wins over two 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 27th in singles and 20th in doubles with Becky Varnum. Freshman Katie Cunha and junior Kimberly Guy are ranked 51st in doubles.

VAUGHAN WINS KEY MATCHES: Sophomore Nina Vaughan has compiled an overall singles record of 23-13 and 18-8 in dual matches. Her overall singles record includes wins over Iowa’s Shera Wiegler and USC’s Veronika Safarova in the fall, while her 18 dual singles wins are third most on the team. Vaughan will play her first NCAA match against UIC and enters the match with wins in 13 of her last 15 matches.

GREEN LEADS IN DOUBLES: Sophomore Lindsey Green, along with Kelly Zalinski, leads the Irish with a 17-5 record in doubles dual matches. She also is one of just two Irish players (Michelle Dasso) to win over 20 dual singles matches with a 21-6 record at mostly No. 5 singles.

CUNHA TOPS AT NO. 6: Freshman Katie Cunha was thrust into the singles lineup at No. 6 singles after an injury to junior Kimberly Guy. She has responded by compiling the best record at No. 6 singles in the 11 years Jay Louderback has coached the Irish. Her 13-2 mark at the bottom spot in the lineup stands as the best winning percentage (.867), the third-most wins and the most wins by a freshman.

20-WIN SEASON: The Irish have reached 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.