Jan. 26, 2003
MADISON, Wis. – Eight months ago, the Notre Dame women’s tennis team saw its season come to an abrupt end against Wisconsin in the opening round of the NCAA Championships. On Sunday afternoon, the 22nd-ranked Irish earned a measure of revenge for that setback, defeating the 30th-ranked Badgers, 5-2, at UW’s Nielsen Tennis Center. In the process, Notre Dame moved its all-time record against Wisconsin to 12-6, including a 7-2 mark in Madison.
Junior Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) was the catalyst for Sunday’s victory, earning wins in both the singles and doubles brackets. Salas, who is ranked 124th in the nation in singles, improved to 2-0 this season in dual match play (13-4 overall) with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Shana McElroy at the No. 1 flight. Salas now has won nine of her last 10 singles matches and is a staggering 29-3 in dual matches during her career.
The Irish earned the doubles point against Wisconsin after senior Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.) and freshman Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) opened with an 8-3 victory at the No. 1 flight. Salas then teamed with freshman Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) to post the clinching doubles victory, recording an 8-6 triumph at the No. 2 position. The Salas/Connelly team is 5-2 this season and 2-0 in dual matches.
Needing three points to secure the victory, Notre Dame picked up singles wins at the top two and bottom two flights, although none of them came easy. Aside from Salas’ straight-set victory, the other three Irish singles wins all came in three sets with Notre Dame players having to come from behind each time. Junior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.) rallied from a set down to defeat the Badgers’ Linde Mues, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 2 singles. Sophomore Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) also had to come from behind, but she also came out a winner, defeating UW’s Lara Vojnov in the No. 5 position, 6-7 (5-7), 6-0, 6-3. Freshman Jennifer Smith (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg H.S.) then added her second dual-match win of the season with a 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 6 singles over Teresa Gonzaga.
Stastny nearly contributed another point for the Irish, taking the first set of her No. 3 singles match with Wisconsin’s Katie McGaffigan. However, the Badger veteran bounced back to win the second set in a tiebreaker and went on to claim a 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 victory.
Notre Dame will face its second consecutive Big Ten Conference opponent on Thursday when it pays a visit to Northwestern for a 4 p.m. (EST) match. The Wildcats are ranked 12th in the nation and feature four singles players ranked among the top 80 in the country.
— ND —
#22 Notre Dame 5, #30 Wisconsin 2
#124 Alicia Salas (ND) d. Shana McElroy (UW), 6-4, 7-5
Caylan Leslie (ND) d. Linde Mues (UW), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Katie McGaffigan (UW) d. Kristina Stastny (ND), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0
Lindsay Martin (UW) d. Lauren Connelly (ND), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) d. Lara Vojnov (UW), 6-7 (5-7), 6-0, 6-3
Jennifer Smith (ND) d. Teresa Gonzaga (UW), 5-7, 6-0, 6-1
Katie Cunha/Stastny (ND) d. McGaffigan/Mues (UW), 8-3
L. Connelly/Salas (ND) d. McElroy/Vojnov (UW), 8-6
Gonzaga/Martin (UW) d. S.J. Connelly/Smith (ND), 8-3