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ND WOMEN’S TENNIS: Victory over Purdue boosts team’s morale

Dan Tapetillo | Wednesday, March 23, 2005

After dropping their last two matches, losing one of their key players to an injury and falling to No. 29 in the team NCAA rankings – the Irish were in desperate need of a win.

Fortunately for Notre Dame (7-7), it found little trouble in achieving this feat by defeating No. 61 Purdue (2-8) 5-2 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Tuesday.

Despite losing key matches to No. 24 BYU and No. 23 Tennessee last week, the Irish looked confident against the Boilermakers as they began the contest with a sweep in the doubles matches.

Playing at No. 1 for the Irish were sophomore Catrina Thompson and junior Kiki Stastny. The pairing defeated the team of Lara Burgarello and Shawna Zuccarini 8-4.

The No. 2 pairing of freshman Brook Buck and junior Lauren Connelly also found little difficulty in topping Purdue’s Brooke Beier and Stephanie Wooten in their 8-4 victory.

However, it was the final pairing of senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly and junior Jen Smith at No. 3 that showed an impressive comeback.

After falling behind early 2-0 to the Boilermakers’ Hala Sufi and Alyssa Rodriguez, Connelly and Smith won the next eight straight points to secure the 8-2 win.

“We started a little slow, but we played a lot more impressive than we did against Tennessee,” Sarah Jane Connelly said.

“But we just focused on the basic serve and return to get the win.”

Focusing on the key elements of the game is what has helped the team adjust to several lineup changes after losing Christian Thompson, their No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles player.

“It has been tough [changing doubles partners] because you never know who you’ll be playing with,” Connelly said.

“After playing with the same person for most of the year, you begin developing a rhythm. You just have to be really adaptable for any changes [right before the match].

“But we are hoping to get Christian back because she is a real anchor for our team.”

In singles, playing at the No. 1 position for the Irish was No. 44 ranked Catrina Thom-pson, who top-ped No. 74 Sufi 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

At No. 2 was Buck, who only needed two sets to defeat Pur-due’s Wooten 6-3, 6-2.

The two other wins came from Lauren Connelly at No. 3 and Stastny at No. 4. Connelly defeated Zuccarini 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 and Stastny bested Rodriguez 6-2, 6-3.

The losses came at the Nos. 5 and 6 positions from Smith and junior Liz Donohue.

Smith lost to the Boilermaker’s Beier 3-6, 0-6 and Donohue fell to Amy Walgenbach 6-3, 4-6, 0-6.

Notre Dame will next hit the courts when the Irish travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma this Saturday to face Oklahoma State at 1 p.m.