Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Women's Tennis Travels to BIG EAST Championship

April 20, 1999

* Notre Dame enters top 10 for first time since 1996
* Dasso one of five players in top ten in both singles and doubles

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The 10th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team will look to claim its third BIG EAST title in four years this week as the Irish head to Miami the BIG EAST championship, held April 22-25, at the Neil Schiff Tennis Complex in Coral Gables, Fla. Notre Dame closed out its regular season with a 6-2 win at 65th-ranked Indiana on Thurs., April 15.

BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Notre Dame will be making its fourth appearance at the BIG EAST championship after winning in 1996 and 1997 and finishing second to Miami in 1998. The 10th-ranked Irish have earned the top seed of the 13 teams in the tournament for the fourth straight year. Miami, currently ranked 24th in the country with a 16-8 record following a 7-2 win at Alabama, is seeded second. Third-seeded Boston College is ranked 69th, while fourth-seeded Syracuse is ranked 73rd. Notre Dame, Miami and Boston College receive first-round byes as the top three seeds. The Irish will play their first match on Fri., April 23, against the winner of Thursday’s match between eighth-seeded Rutgers and ninth-seeded St. John’s.

In their first appearance in 1996, the Irish did not drop a match in beating eighth-seeded St. John’s, fourth-seeded Boston College and second-seeded Miami 4-0 to claim the title. In 1997, the top-seeded Irish blanked ninth-seeded Providence, fourth-seeded Boston College and second-seeded Miami 4-0 to win their second consecutive title. The Hurricanes snapped Notre Dame’s streak by upending the top-seeded Irish 4-2 in the 1998 championship match after the Irish had beaten eight-seeded Georgetown and fifth-seeded West Virginia 4-0.

IRISH DOWN INDIANA IN REGULAR-SEASON FINALE: Notre Dame ended its regular season by beating 65th-ranked Indiana 6-2 on Thursday and extended its winning streak against Midwest regional opponents to 20 matches with the win. The Irish won five singles matches in straight sets to clinch their fourth consecutive win over the Hoosiers. Sophomore Michelle Dasso (Long Grove, Ill.) and senior Jennifer Hall (Oklahoma City, Okla.) dropped just two games each as both improved to 21-4 in dual matches. The eighth-ranked Dasso beat Jessica Anderson 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, while 62nd-ranked Hall beat Kelly Blanch 6-2, 6-0 at No. 2 singles. The Irish also picked up singles wins at the bottom of their lineup. Sixty-ninth ranked freshman Becky Varnum (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was a 6-4, 7-5 winner over Amanda Field at No. 4 singles, while junior Kelly Zalinski (Greer, S.C.) beat Ana Ceretto 6-4, 6-1 at No. 5 singles. Sophomore Kim Guy (Portola Valley, Calif.) downed Jennifer Hsia 6-4, 6-4 at No. 6 singles.

The eighth-ranked team of Dasso and Hall improved to 24-7 with their 8-2 win over Blanch and Becky Wallihan at No. 1 doubles. Anderson and Field beat Guy and Sarah Scaringe 8-4 at No. 3 doubles for Indiana’s second point of the match. No. 2 doubles was not played.

IN THE TOP 10 AGAIN: Notre Dame has climbed to 10th in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings released on April 20. The last time the Irish were ranked in the top 10 came on Oct. 14, 1996, when Notre Dame was eighth in the preseason poll after finishing sixth in the final poll of the 1995-96 season. In addition to its No. 10 ranking as a team, Notre Dame has a singles player and doubles team in the top 10 as well. Sophomore Michelle Dasso is eighth in singles and seventh in doubles with Jennifer Hall.

IRISH AT THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: Senior Marisa Velasco (Chula Vista, Calif.) and junior Kelly Zalinski enter the BIG EAST championship with perfect singles records. Velasco boasts a 6-0 record in her three previous appearances at the BIG EAST championship with half of those wins coming in championship matches. She also has compiled a 3-1 doubles record. Zalinski has a pair of 4-0 records in both singles and doubles. Senior Jennifer Hall is 3-1 in singles and 5-2 in doubles. Sophomores Kim Guy and Michelle Dasso have 1-0 singles record, while Dasso also is 2-1 in doubles. Sarah Scaringe (Marietta, Ga.) has won both of the doubles matches she has played at the BIG EAST championship.

IRISH MIDWEST WINNING STREAK AT 20 MATCHES: Notre Dame’s 6-2 win at Indiana extended its winning streak against Midwest region opponents to 20 matches, a streak that dates back to a loss to Wisconsin in the 1997 NCAA Midwest Regional. The Irish have beaten all 10 regional opponents in ’99, winning those matches by a combined score of 77-12. Since the ’95 season, the Irish have rolled through their regional foes, building a 42-4 record against other Midwest teams, including 34 wins against Big 10 teams.

CRAZY 8s FOR DASSO: Since March 23, Irish sophomore Michelle Dasso held the eighth spot in both the ITA singles and doubles rankings, losing just one match at No. 8. She boasts a 10-0 singles record and 8-1 doubles mark with Jennifer Hall since climbing to her career-high rankings. The doubles pair crept a spot to seventh in the latest ITA rankings released April 20. Dasso joins Georgia’s Marissa Catlin, Stanford’s Marissa Irvin and Teryn Ashley and Duke’s Vanessa Webb as one of only five players ranked in the top 10 in both singles and doubles.

HONORS CONTINUE FOR HALL: As Jennifer Hall wraps up her storied career at Notre Dame, the two-time senior All-American added another accolade when she was named one of five recipients of the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the most prestigious honor awarded to Notre Dame senior student-athletes who have been exemplary both as students and leaders. Hall is just the fourth women’s tennis player and the first since Wendy Crabtree in 1996 to win a Kanaley Award, which have been presented each year since 1927. Earlier this year, Hall was selected as the recipient of the USTA Sportsmanship Award at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor by the 16 coaches participating in the event. Hall is the second Notre Dame player to win the award, following 1994 winner Crabtree.

VARNUM, ZALINSKI STRONG IN THE MIDDLE: Irish freshman Becky Varnum and junior Kelly Zalinski have played important roles in Notre Dame’s success this season with their results at Nos. 4 and 5 singles. The duo has anchored the middle of the lineup in dual matches with Varnum posting a 19-6 mark at No. 4 and Zalinski 18-6 at No. 5. The 69th-ranked Varnum leads the team in singles wins with her 32-11 record, while Zalinski is second with a 30-11 mark.

IRISH FACE TOUGH SLATE: The Irish have played 20 of their 25 matches against ranked teams, including nine teams in top 15 at the time of the match. The Irish have played four of the nine teams ranked ahead of them in the latest ITA rankings. All six of Notre Dame’s losses have come against teams ranked ahead of the Irish at the time of the match.

HALL REACHES 200 WINS: Senior two-time All-American Jennifer Hall won at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles last week against Indiana to bring her school-record combined career singles and doubles to 202. She boasts a 113-57 singles record and an 89-45 doubles record. Hall earlier in the season broke 13-year-old records of 195 combined wins and 107 singles wins by Mary Colligan from 1982-86. Hall’s win over Illinois’ Stacy Schapiro marked her 108th singles win at Notre Dame and moved her past Colligan for the most singles wins in Irish history. Hall became the first Irish player to reach 100 wins under head coach Jay Louderback on Feb. 19, when she beat UCLA’s Annica Cooper 7-5, 6-3.

IRISH IN THE RANKINGS: Notre Dame is ranked 10th in the latest ITA rankings, jumping five spot from 15th after beginning the year ranked 16th. Sophomore Michelle Dasso remains a career-high ranking of eight, while senior All-American Jennifer is ranked 56th and seventh in doubles with Dasso. Freshman Becky Varnum remains 69th in singles.

SINGLES LINEUP SOLID: Only four teams have beaten the Irish singles lineup in 1999, top-ranked Florida, second-ranked Duke, 12th-ranked Tennessee and 13th-ranked Arizona State. Against the Blue Devils, the Irish had won two of four matches before losing two three-set matches 6-4 in the final sets. Notre Dame split six matches with eighth-ranked UCLA and won four of six singles matches against 15th-ranked Pepperdine, 13th-ranked USC, 32nd-ranked Northwestern, ninth-ranked Wake Forest, 18th-ranked Kentucky, 62nd-ranked Illinois, 55th-ranked Wisconsin and ninth-ranked William & Mary. The Irish won five singles matches against Indiana, Ohio State, Kansas and Iowa and swept BYU, Purdue, Illinois State, Michigan, Clemson, Oklahoma, Kansas State and DePaul.

Overall, the Irish are 108-41 in singles in dual matches for an average lead after singles of 4.3 to 1.7 per match. Notre Dame has won at least four singles matches in 20 of the 25 dual matches.

DASSO TOUGH IN DUAL MATCHES: Michelle Dasso has been tough to beat in dual singles matches in her short career, amassing a 45-7 record and a 21-4 mark in 1999 at No. 1 singles. She won her first 20 dual matches as a freshman in a streak that included wins over M.C. White of Florida and Christina Moros of Texas. Dasso ended her freshman season with a 24-3 dual match record at No. 2.

HEAD COACH JAY LOUDERBACK: Jay Louderback is in his 10th year as head coach of the Irish, compiling a 173-88 (.663) record at Notre Dame and a career mark of 375-266 (.585) in 19-plus seasons of coaching. He has guided the Irish to NCAA championship appearances in five of the last six years, including a national quarterfinal appearance in 1996. His teams have finished among the top 20 teams in the country in four of the last six 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 and 1997. His Notre Dame players have won All-America honors seven times in his nine years.

DASSO/HALL DUO POST BIG WINS: The first-year doubles team of Michelle Dasso and Jennifer Hall stand a season-high No. 7 in the rankings thanks to nine wins over ranked teams. The duo went 3-0 at the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor, with wins over sixth-ranked Lehnhoff and Nickitas of Florida, eighth-ranked Basica and Cooper of UCLA and 19th-ranked Huber and Warkentin of USC. The duo also beat seventh-ranked Dascoli and Harris of Ohio State for three wins over top 10 teams and most recently beat 14th-ranked Tara Ann Toro and Laura Tsaggaris of William & Mary. Dasso and Hall are 19-5 in dual matches and 24-7 overall.

FRESHMEN SPARK IRISH: Notre Dame’s freshman class of Berica Day (San Antonio, Texas), Lindsey Green, Becky Varnum and Nina Vaughan (Corona del Mar, Calif.) combined for a 38-22 record during an impressive fall season. Green, Varnum and Vaughan all saw action in Notre Dame’s first two matches of the season, the biggest immediate contributions for a freshman class since the 1993 freshman class of Wendy Crabtree, Holyn Lord and Sherri Vitale all played in the singles or doubles lineup in their first dual match.

IRISH AT HOME: Notre Dame finished the 1999 regular season with a 10-1 record, its the best home mark since the Irish were 8-0 at home in 1990 in Jay Louderback’s first year at Notre Dame. Second-ranked Duke was the only team to defeat Notre Dame at home this year, while the Irish picked up wins over six ranked teams, including two top-10 teams.

Irish Recordbook
Senior All-American Jennifer Hall has surpassed Mary Colligan’s Notre Dame career records for singles and combined singles and doubles wins:

Jennifer Hall (1995-99)     Mary Colligan (1982-86)Singles: 113 (29 wins/yr.)  Singles: 107 (27/yr.)Doubles: 89 (21 wins/yr.)   Doubles: 88 (22/yr.)Combined: 202 (50 wins/yr.) Combined: 195 (49/yr.)

Intercollegiate Tennis Association Rankings

Team Release: April 20, 1999This   Last School              TotalRank   Year1.      1.  Florida *           58.252.      5.  Stanford            57.803.      2.  Georgia             57.324.      3.  Duke *              50.715.      7.  California          49.556.      4.  UCLA *              47.137.      13. Texas               41.938.      8.  Mississippi         41.749.      6.  Pepperdine *        41.4110.     15. Notre Dame          33.3311.     14. USC *               33.1212.     12. Vanderbilt          32.7213.     11. Arizona State *     32.4714.     9.  William & Mary *    30.8815.     10. Tennessee *         28.0216.     16. South Carolina      26.0217.     19. Wake Forest *       25.1018.     17. Arkansas            23.3319.     18. Florida State       20.8720.     20. Kentucky *          19.49
* indicates Notre Dame opponents
Singles Release: April 20, 1999This Last Name SchoolRank Rank1. 1. Zuzana Lesenarova San Diego2. 3. Vanessa Webb Duke3. 2. Marissa Irvin Stanford4. 4. Agnes Muzamel Mississippi5. 5. Teryn Ashley Stanford6. 6. Marissa Catlin Georgia7. 7. Whitney Laiho Florida8. 8. Michelle Dasso Notre Dame9. 9. Dora Djilinova Fresno State10. 11. Anousjka Van Exel Tulsa56. 62. Jennifer Hall Notre Dame69. 69. Becky Varnum Notre Dame
Doubles Release: April 20, 1999This Last Name SchoolRank Rank1. 1. Catlin/Castellano Georgia2. 2. Ashley/Irvin Stanford3. 3. Goldstein/Webb Duke4. 4. Augustus/Jensen California 5. 5. Lehnoff/Nickitas Florida6. 6. Basica/Cooper UCLA7. 8. Dasso/Hall Notre Dame8. 10. Lawrence/Senoglu Pepperdine9. 7. Ondrejkova/Puflerova So. Ala.10. 9. Eberle/Frey Mississippi

Irish Singles leaders Under Louderback
Of the many players who have played at Notre Dame in the 10-year era of head coach Jay Louderback, four of the top 11 singles players are members of the 1998-99 team.

Name                    Record  Years1. Jennifer Hall        113-57  1996-992. Holyn Lord           99-43   1993-963. Wendy Crabtree       97-52   1993-964. Marisa Velasco       96-45   1996-995. Lisa Tholen          95-41   1991-946. Melissa Harris       95-37   1990-937. Kelly Zalinski       94-35   1997-998. Kim Pacella          93-52   1988-919. Christy Faustmann    91-52   1991-9410. Laura Schwab        81-59   1992-9511. Michelle Dasso      70-17   1998-99