Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Women's Tennis Travels To UNC, No. 5 Wake Forest

Feb. 25, 2000

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 15th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team travels to 28th-ranked North Carolina and fifth-ranked Wake Forest this weekend. Notre Dame finished 1-2 last weekend at the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships with a first-round win over William & Mary followed by losses to eventual champion Stanford and USC.

UP NEXT FOR THE IRISH: Notre Dame and North Carolina will meet for just the fourth time and the first time since 1994 when the Irish and Tar Heels square off on Sat., Feb. 26, at 1:00 p.m. North Carolina enters the match with a 1-3 record and is led by a trio of ranked singles players in 83rd-ranked Marlene Mejia, 95th-ranked Kate Pinchbeck and 101st-ranked Kendrick Bunn. All three losses have come against top 25 teams.

After the North Carolina match, the Irish will travel to Wake Forest on Sun., Feb. 27, at 10:00 a.m. to face the fifth-ranked Demon Deacons, who are coming off a semifinal appearance at the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships. The teams have played 10 previous times with Wake Forest holding a 6-4 edge in the series. The Demon Deacons boast four ranked singles players in Adria Engel (7), Bea Beilik (29), Janet Bergman (42) and Jackie Houston (57) and two ranked doubles teams in Beilik and Engel (14) and Bergman and Ann Marie Milton (23). Third-year assistant coach Liz Barker played at Wake Forest and earned All-America honors in 1994. The Irish have beaten the Demon Deacons in each of the last two years since Barker came to Notre Dame.

ZALINSKI FAMILY REUNION: Notre Dame’s match against North Carolina will pit Irish senior Kelly Zalinski (Greer, S.C.) against her sister Courtney, a junior for the Tar Heels. Kelly Zalinski has played at No. 3 singles and No. 3 doubles for the Irish and has compiled a 10-8 singles record and 11-8 doubles record this year. She could face Courtney in doubles as the younger Zalinski played at No. 3 doubles in North Carolina’s last dual match.

WEEK IN REVIEW: The Irish opened the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships by beating 12th-ranked William & Mary 5-2 in the first round. Notre Dame won the doubles point in the experimental format and then won four of six singles matches for the victory. Sophomore Lindsey Green (El Cajon, Calif.) provided the clinching point for the third consecutive match with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Lindsay Sullivan at No. 5 singles. Junior All-American Michelle Dasso (Long Grove, Ill.) and sophomores Becky Varnum (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Nina Vaughan (Corona del Mar, Calif.) also posted singles wins. The duos of Dasso and Varnum and freshman Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash.) and junior Kimberly Guy (Portola Valley, Calif.) clinched the doubles point for the Irish.

Top-ranked Stanford awaited Notre Dame in the quarterfinals and came away with a 5-2 win on its way to winning the championship. Stanford won the doubles point with wins at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles. Dasso and Varnum won 8-4 at No.1 doubles over Teryn Ashley and Marissa Irvin, who were ranked as high as second last year to avoid falling behind 2-0 after doubles. Stanford then won four singles matches for the win. Kelly Zalinski gave Notre Dame its first point when she beat 55th-ranked Ashley 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3 singles. Guy won Notre Dame’s second point with a 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 win over 71st-ranked Jennifer Heiser at No. 6 singles.

Notre Dame and 13th-ranked USC met in the consolation match for fifth place, and the Trojans came away with a 5-2 win, avenging a 5-3 loss to the Irish at the 1999 event. Notre Dame claimed the doubles point but USC took advantage of the experimental format in which a match tiebreaker (first to 10, win by two) to be played instead of a third set in singles. The Trojans won three singles matches in the match tiebreaker, including a 19-17 tiebreaker win by Kara Warkentin over Varnum at No. 2 singles and 10-5 and 10-4 at Nos. 4 and 6 singles. Dasso won the only singles match for the Irish with a 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) victory over 38th-ranked Jewel Peterson at No. 1 singles.

ITA RANKINGS: The Irish stand 15th among the 75 teams ranked by the ITA — up two spots from 17th following the win over 12th-ranked William & Mary — after finishing 1999 ranked 15th. Junior Michelle Dasso is ranked 82nd in singles and 33rd in doubles with Becky Varnum. Freshman Katie Cunha and junior Kimberly Guy are the top-ranked team in the country in doubles at 17th.

DASSO AND VARNUM 3-0 IN DOUBLES LAST WEEK: Notre Dame’s No. 1 doubles team of Michelle Dasso and Becky Varnum improved to 11-3 this year and 6-1 in dual matches with a 3-0 record last week at the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships. They began with an 8-3 win over William & Mary’s Delphine Troch and Carolijn van Rossum before posting an 8-4 win over Stanford’s Teryn Ashley and Marissa Irvin, who were ranked as high as second in the country last year. They concluded the weekend with an 8-6 victory over USC’s 26th-ranked Tiffany Brymer and Kara Warkentin.

Dasso teamed with former Irish All-American Jennifer Hall for a 3-0 weekend at No. 1 doubles at last year’s event, including wins over Florida’s sixth-ranked Jessica Lenhoff and Stephanie Nickitas and UCLA’s eighth-ranked Amanda Basica and Annica Cooper.

ZALINSKI APPROACHES SCHOOL RECORD: Senior Kelly Zalinski needs just nine more singles wins and 27 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 weekend with 108 wins in singles and 75 in doubles for a total of 183. 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.

DASSO IN DUAL MATCHES: Junior All-American Michelle Dasso enters the week as one of the top singles players in dual matches during the Jay Louderback era at Notre Dame. She has compiled a record of 53-10 (.850) during her two-plus seasons at mostly No. 1 singles. Only seven other Irish players have more dual singles matches under Louderback, including 66 by senior Kelly Zalinski.

IRISH FACE TOUGH SLATE: After facing five top-25 opponents already, the Irish are scheduled to meet at least 15 more ranked teams, including matches at sixth-ranked Pepperdine, fifth-ranked Wake Forest and 13th-ranked William & Mary. Notre Dame’s 10-match home schedule features five matches against Midwest region teams, BIG EAST rival Miami (Fla.) and 22nd-ranked Kentucky. The Irish will make their seventh consecutive appearance at the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships at Wisconsin 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 seven of the top 13 teams, including five of the top 10.

GREEN OFF TO FAST SPRING START: Sophomore Lindsey Green leads the team with a 7-2 mark in singles in 2000, with wins at Nos. 3 and 4 singles and five wins at No. 5 singles. She began the 2000 season with three wins at No. 5 singles in Hawaii. She rolled to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Hawaii’s Georgeina Sesto and then dropped just two games in beating Duke’s 97th-ranked Brooke Siebel 6-2, 6-0. She wrapped up the weekend with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Washington’s Zeta Wagner. Green won three more matches in straight sets against Yale, Maryland, Illinois and William & Mary, including the clinching wins in Notre Dame’s last three victories. Her singles record stands at 12-7 after her 5-5 mark during the fall season, which began with singles and doubles titles at the Indiana Invitational.

Green and Kelly Zalinski have teamed for a 3-3 mark at No. 3 doubles including a clinching win against Washington. Green teamed with senior Sarah Scaringe (Marietta, Ga.) for the clinching win against Yale at No. 3 doubles.

VARNUM WINS COTTON BOWL: Sophomore Becky Varnum spent part of her mid-semester break preparing for the dual-match season as the fifth seed of the 1999 Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas. Varnum dropped just 13 games in five matches on her way to winning the title. After a pair of 6-1, 6-1 wins, Varnum beat Tennessee’s top-seeded Alison Ojeda 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. Her toughest match was a 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 win over ninth-seeded Saber Pierce in the semifinals. Varnum claimed the title with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Northwestern’s sixth-seeded Shannon Duffy in the final. She has compiled a 5-3 record at No. 2 singles in 2000.

HEAD COACH JAY LOUDERBACK: Jay Louderback is in his 11th year as head coach of the Irish, compiling a 183-92 (.665) record at Notre Dame and a career mark of 387-270 (.589) 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.

This Rank Last Rank School Avg.
1. 1. Stanford * 525
2. 3. California 516
3. 4. Georgia 507
4. 2. Florida 505
5. T9. Wake Forest * 497
6. 6. Pepperdine * 487
7. 13. USC * 474
8. 8. Texas 468
9. 7. Duke * 467
10. T9. Arizona State 452
11. 18. Northwestern * 450
12. 5. Mississippi 448
13. 12. William & Mary * 442
14. 11. UCLA 439
15. 17. NOTRE DAME 437
16. 16. Vanderbilt 423
17. 14. South Carolina 418
18. 15. Tennessee 409
19. 19. Florida State 394
20. 20. South Alabama 393
21. 22. Kentucky * 385
22. 25. Arkansas 364
23. 23. Washington * 359
24. 26. LSU 358
25. 24. Fresno State 357

* – indicates Notre Dame opponents

Other Notre Dame opponents

This Rank Last Rank School Avg.
31. 27. Miami (Fla.) 312
28. 29. North Carolina 342
30. 32. Iowa 321
34. 33. Ohio State 304
42. 41. Kansas 226
43. 55. Indiana 222
44. 45. Illinois 218
50. 49. Wisconsin 175
51. 44. Maryland 175
54. 53. BYU 152
59. 66 Michigan 116
63. 64. Purdue 102