April 2, 2002
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The 23rd-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team lost its third consecutive match to a top-10 opponent Tuesday afternoon at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, falling to seventh-ranked North Carolina 6-1. The Tar Heels won the doubles point and five of six singles matches to secure the victory. Notre Dame will return to action next weekend with home matches against #17 Northwestern on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and 26th-ranked Miami Sunday at Noon in the first-ever “Ace for the Cure” (details at end of release).
Notre Dame fell to 11-10 this season, though seven of their losses have come to teams currently ranked in the national top 15. The Irish, who have dropped four of their last five matches, completed a four-day trip to the state of North Carolina in which they also dropped matches to #3 Wake Forest (4-3) and #4 Duke (6-1). North Carolina won its eighth straight match to improve to 15-3.
Sophomore Alicia Salas (Engelwood, Colo.) continued her scorching play this season, claiming the lone Irish point with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) win over Aniela Mojzis at No. 4. Salas improved to 19-2 this spring and 26-5 overall in 2001-02. She has won 22 of her last 24 matches.
North Carolina gained the doubles point via a tiebreaker victory at No. 1. Lee Bairos and Kate Pinchbeck struck first, registering an 8-3 victory at No. 3. The Irish rebounded when seniors Becky Varnum (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Nina Vaughan (Corona del Mar, Calif.) upset Kendall Cline and Mojzis, the 26th-ranked doubles team in the nation, 8-5 at No. 2. The victory marked the 102nd doubles triumph in Varnum’s career, moving her into second place on the Irish all-time list, trailing 2001 graduate and school-record-holder Michelle Dasso’s 109. In the deciding match, Marlene Mejia and Julie Rotondi prevailed 7-4 in a tiebreaker to give North Carolina a 1-0 lead.
The Tar Heels won five singles matches to complete the victory. Julie Rotondi, ranked 105th, gave the Tar Heels a 2-0 lead when she won 6-1, 6-2 at No. 3. At No. 2, 29th-ranked Kate Pinchbeck improved to 18-0 this spring with a 6-1, 6-4 victory. Marlene Mejia, ranked 25th nationally in singles, won 6-2, 7-5 at No. 1, while Kendall Cline won 7-6 (7-3), 6-0 at No. 6 and Salas gained the only point for the Irish. In the sole three-set match of the day, Lee Bairos won 4-6, 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5.
The North Carolina victory marked the second time the Tar Heels defeated the Irish this season. The Heels also defeated Notre Dame 6-1 in the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February.
Sunday’s Notre Dame-Miami match will be the first-ever “Ace For The Cure” — a special match-up designed to increase awareness among the Michiana community as to the deadly threat of colon cancer. Inspired and conceived by Irish junior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash.), whose family has been afflicted by this disease, the match will serve as a fund raiser with all proceeds going to benefit ongoing colon cancer research. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and students (college age and under), and they may be purchased at the Joyce Center Ticket Office (call 574-631-7356) or the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
#7 North Carolina 6, #23 Notre Dame 1
No. 1: #25 Marlene Mejia (NC) d. #75 Becky Varnum (ND) 6-2, 7-5
No. 2: #29 Kate Pinchbeck (NC) d. #118 Nina Vaughan (ND) 6-1, 6-4
No. 3: #105 Julie Rotondi (NC) d. Lindsey Green (ND) 6-1, 6-2
No. 4: Alicia Salas (ND) d. Aniela Mojzis (NC) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)
No. 5: Lee Bairos (NC) d. Katie Cunha (ND) 4-6, 6-0, 6-0
No. 6: Kendall Cline (NC) d. Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) 7-6 (7-3). 6-0
No. 1: Mejia/Rotondi (NC) d. Cunha/Green (ND) 9-8 (7-4)
No. 2: Varnum/Vaughan (ND) d. #26 Cline/Mojzis (NC) 8-5
No. 3: Bairos/Pinchbeck (NC) d. Connelly/Salas (ND) 8-3