March 28, 2000

* Notre Dame heads to Michigan and Purdue, plays host to Wisconsin

* Irish off to best start since 1996 team with 13-5 record

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The 12th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team will play three regional opponents in eight days when the Irish travel to Michigan and Purdue with a home match versus Wisconsin in between. Notre Dame defeated BYU and lost to Pepperdine over spring break before returning home to beat Kansas.

UP NEXT FOR THE IRISH: Notre Dame travels to 52nd-ranked Michigan for a 4:00 p.m. match on Wed., March 29. The Wolverines enter the match with a 6-5 record following their 7-0 win over Michigan State on March 25. Senior Brooke Hart leads Michigan with an 8-3 record at No. 1 singles. The Irish lead the all-time series with the Wolverines 10-7 and have won the last five matches since a 5-4 loss in their final regular-season match of the 1994 season. Notre Dame returns home on Sun., April 2 for a 10:30 a.m. match against 66th-ranked Wisconsin. The Badgers enter the week with a 6-9 record and will play Iowa on Fri., March 31, before travelling to Notre Dame. Junior April Gabler and freshman Lara Vojnov are ranked 35th in the country in doubles. The Irish have won eight of 13 meetings with the Badgers and have won the last three matches against Wisconsin. The Irish then travel to 64th-ranked Purdue on Wed., April 5, for a 1:00 p.m. match against the Boilermakers in their first trip to Purdue since 1990. Purdue has a 6-7 record and will play at LSU and SMU before facing the Irish. Jennifer Embry and Shannon Tahney are ranked 15th in doubles. Notre Dame has won 10 straight matches against Purdue in a series it leads 14-4.

IRISH VS. MIDWEST REGION OPPONENTS: Notre Dame enters its three matches with a winning streak of 30 matches against Midwest Region opponents in regular season matches. Wisconsin is the last Midwest team to beat Notre Dame during the regular season when the eighth-ranked Badgers beat the seventh-ranked Irish 4-3 on April 15, 1996. Notre Dame has an overall record of 35-3 against Midwest Region opponents since the start of the 1996 season and has finished as the top-ranked regional team in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

WEEK IN REVIEW: Notre Dame traveled to 49th-ranked BYU and won 7-2 on Sat., March 11. The Irish won five singles matches and two doubles matches against the Cougars. Michelle Dasso rallied to win her eighth consecutive match with a 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory over BYU’s 53rd-ranked Eline Chiew. The Irish won four singles matches in straight sets. Sophomore Becky Varnum downed Jodi Richardson 6-0, 7-5 at No. 2 singles, while senior Kelly Zalinski downed Kim Kelly 7-5, 6-1 at No. 3 singles. Sophomore Nina Vaughan beat Tara Ferguson 7-6, 6-4 at No. 4 singles. Freshman Katie Cunha won her sixth straight match in 2000 with a 7-6, 6-2 victory over Lu Oswald at No. 6 singles. Notre Dame then claimed wins at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles for the 7-2 final. Green and Zalinski won 8-4 at No. 2 over Chiew and Oswald, while Varnum and Vaughan beat Khoudoiarova and Reynolds 8-3 at No. 3 doubles. In the second match over spring break, Notre Dame saw its five-match winning streak snapped in a 7-2 loss at ninth-ranked Pepperdine on Sat., March 18. The Waves won five of six singles matches and two of three doubles matches for the win. Green won the only Irish singles match with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Dorothee Kurz at No. 5 singles. The Waves won three singles matches after losing the first set and two other singles matches in straight sets to clinch the match with five singles wins. Green and Zalinski won the only Irish doubles match with an 8-3 win over 45th-ranked Kurz and Maren Mueller at No. 2 doubles. Pepperdine wrapped up the win with victories at Nos. 1 and 3 doubles. The Irish returned to action at home against Kansas on Mon., March 27 and lost just one set in singles and swept the doubles for a 9-0 win over the Jayhawks. Dasso gave the Irish a 1-0 lead with her win over Brooke Chiller before Vaughan beat Tiffany Chang 6-3, 6-1 at No. 4 singles. Cunha won 6-3, 6-1 at No. 6 singles over Lisa Mallaiah, and Green won 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 over Christi Wagenaar at No. 5 singles. Varnum clinched the win with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Cheryl Mallaiah at No. 2 singles after trailing 1-4 in the first set. Zalinski held on for a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Monica Sekulov at No. 3 singles to complete the singles wins. The 20th-ranked doubles team of Dasso and Varnum played their first match together in a month and beat Chiller and Cheryl Mallaiah 8-3 at No. 1 doubles. Green and Zalinski won their eighth consecutive match and fifth straight at No. 2 doubles with an 8-6 decision against Sekulov and Wagenaar. Junior Kimberly Guy and senior Sarah Scaringe won 8-6 over Chang and Lisa Mallaiah at No. 3 doubles in Guy’s first action since Feb. 27.

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 19-8 record, including 11-4 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 6-0 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.

IRISH UNBEATEN AT HOME: Notre Dame enters the Wisconsin match with a 7-0 record at home and is looking for 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.

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 61-11 (.847) during her two-plus seasons at mostly No. 1 singles. Only six other Irish players have won more dual singles matches under Louderback, including 71 by senior Kelly Zalinski. Dasso has won 28 of her last 32 dual singles matches at No. 1 singles.

ITA RANKINGS: The Irish stand 12th among the 75 teams ranked by the ITA. Junior All-American Michelle Dasso is ranked 11th in singles and 20th in doubles with Becky Varnum. Freshman Katie Cunha and junior Kimberly Guy are ranked 27th in doubles.

ZALINSKI APPROACHES SCHOOL RECORD: Senior Kelly Zalinski needs just four more singles wins and 13 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 week with 112 wins in singles and 84 in doubles for a total of 196. 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.

IRISH FACE TOUGH SLATE: After facing nine top-25 opponents already in 18 matches, the Irish are scheduled to meet at least six more ranked teams, including a match at 13th-ranked William & Mary. Notre Dame is 7-0 at home with the remaining matches of the 10-match home schedule to feature Wisconsin, Indiana and BIG EAST rival Miami (Fla.). The Irish made their seventh consecutive appearance at the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships in February. Notre Dame will defend its 1999 BIG EAST championship April 20-23, at Miami. The Irish are scheduled to play or have played 7 of the top 13 teams, including five of the top 10.

CUNHA FILLS IN, CLINCHES WINS: Freshman Katie Cunha has made an impressive move into the singles lineup at No. 6 singles with a 6-1 record at that position. 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 last week. Against Iowa and Kentucky, Cunha’s singles wins clinched the victories for the Irish.

VAUGHAN WINS KEY MATCHES: Sophomore Nina Vaughan, in her first season as a regular in the singles lineup, won three matches in early March to help the Irish win four matches in five days. She rallied from a first-set loss to provide the clinching match at No. 4 singles against Ohio State and then won in a third-set tiebreaker against Iowa to help the Irish clinch the match after singles. The week before 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 on Saturday. 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. A much improved player from a year ago when she was slowed by injury in the second half of the season, Vaughan has compiled an overall singles record of 15-12, with wins over Iowa’s Shera Wiegler and USC’s Veronika Safarova in the fall.

HEAD COACH JAY LOUDERBACK: Jay Louderback is in his 11th year as head coach of the Irish, compiling a 190-94 (.669) record at Notre Dame and a career mark of 394-272 (.592) 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 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.