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Salas dominates singles court over spring break

Anne Loughery | Tuesday, March 16, 2004

All of the numbers say the same thing – Alicia Salas’s opponents are simply overmatched against the No. 13 senior. Over spring break, Salas upended No. 5 Amanda Johnson of Duke 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. She chased that success with a hard-fought win against No. 24 Tammy Encina of Tennessee 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10-7) in singles. Encina and Salas had met twice earlier this year, with Encina winning both matches.Each of Salas’s last four wins pitted the senior against top-30 ranked players. Salas is 6-0 this year at No. 1 against ranked opponents and 9-2 overall.”She’s really played well all year,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “She’s a real competitor. We’re just asking her to keep doing what she’s doing and to stay aggressive by coming to the net when she can.” Salas’s success came amidst tough losses to No. 6 Duke 6-1 and No. 36 Tennessee 6-1 in Hawaii.”Going from indoor to outdoor courts was a lot to adjust to, I think,” Louderback said. “You have to worry about the sun and wind and the balls don’t travel as fast outside.”The No. 18 Irish, currently 7-4, took on Duke (7-1) first, where they faced tough matches at every position. At No. 3 doubles, junior Sarah Jane Connelly and sophomore Kristina Stastny were first off the courts after a close 8-5 loss to Kristen Cargill and Jennifer Zika. The No. 2 doubles team of Lauren Connelly and Salas lost 8-4 to Saras Arasu and Johnson. At No. 1 doubles, freshmen Catrina and Christian Thompson, ranked No. 37 nationally, knocked off the tandem of Julia Smith and Tory Zawacki, 8-6. The Thompsons are 16-8 this season and have won five of their last six matches.Salas followed up with the lone win in singles at No. 1 against Johnson 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. “Duke is solid all the way down the lineup, but I think we played well. We had a solid chance at each position,” Louderback said. Against No. 36 Tennessee (9-8), Notre Dame faced tough opponents again, with four of the matches settled in tiebreakers. At No. 2 doubles, Sarah Jane Connelly and Stastny outlasted Tennessee’s Majen Immink and Breanna Kray 9-8 (7-4). Sabita Maharaj, ranked No. 73 in singles, and Ashley Robards defeated Lauren Connelly and Salas 8-3 at No. 2. At No. 1, the Thompsons also met tough opponents in Encina and Melissa Schaub, falling short of a win 9-8 (7-5) in a tiebreaker.”Our No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches were really tight,” Louderback said. “As a team overall, we didn’t play with a lot of enthusiasm.”No. 84 Catrina Thompson’s defeat against Robards was also determined by a tiebreaking match at No. 3 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (10-6).Salas garnered the only singles win, edging out Encina 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10-7). The Irish are set to host No. 44 Iowa on Thursday at 4 p.m.