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WOMEN’S TENNIS: Irish win two over weekend

Anne Loughery | Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Irish aren’t ones to take baby steps when recovering from their heartbreaking losses earlier this season.

In fact, No. 31 Notre Dame (11-8) took a giant leap forward this weekend with an upset of No. 16 William and Mary on Saturday and No. 35 Indiana on Sunday, extending their three-match winning streak.

Junior Lauren Connelly said that the team found the wins heartening.

“We went into this weekend thinking that they would both be tough matches,” Connelly said. “And both teams fought really hard, but we had some great practices this week and I think that’s what gave us the confidence to win.”

More heartening, both victories were decided in the final matches of the meet. The Irish have struggled to remain poised under pressure in the past, as they have won just once in ten 10 in 4-3 matches over their opponents in the last two seasons (0-5 this spring).

“I was really proud of how we pulled together at a team,” Connelly said. “With each meet, we’re building confidence.”

Notre Dame claimed the all-important doubles point and three singles points en route to its win over Indiana on Sunday.

Freshman Brook Buck and Lauren Connelly were the first to walk off the courts in doubles with a win over Laura McGaffigan 8-2 at No. 2. Securing the doubles point, No. 4 sophomores Catrina and Christian Thompson defeated Dominika Walterova and Sarah Batty at No. 1. The lone Hoosier win came at No. 3 with Dora Vastag and Cecile Perton outlasting senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly and junior Kiki Stastny 8-7 (3).

Extending the team’s lead, Christian Thompson beat McGaffigan 7-5, 6-0 at No. 3. Thompson returned to the courts in Saturday’s meet against William and Mary after a knee injury had sidelined her for nearly a month.

“It made a huge difference having her back in the lineup,” Connelly said. “Any time you’re missing someone from the lineup, it’s hard on the team. We were glad to see her back and competing so well.”

No. 37 Catrina Thompson was next to walk away with a win, upending No. 101 Vastag 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1.

The Hoosiers made a comeback following Catrina Thompson’s win, picking up the next three singles points. Walterova defeated Lauren Connelly at No. 4 6-4, 6-3 at No. 4, while Perton outlasted Sarah Jane Connelly 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 at No. 6. Batty bested Buck to tie the match 3-3.

With the team’s fate in her hands, Stastny prevailed over William to secure the win for the team 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 at No. 5. This was the second day in a row that Stastny had pulled out a three-set victory in the final match on the court to give Notre Dame the win.

“Kiki played great this weekend,” Connelly said. “She’s always been a solid player in our lineup. She played best when we needed it most.”

No. 31 Notre Dame 4, No. 16 William and Mary 3

Notre Dame started off its stellar weekend with an impressive 4-3 upset over No. 16 William and Mary.

The Irish swept doubles and recorded wins at three of the six singles positions to come out on top.

Lauren Connelly said the team went into the meet with a can-do mentality.

“William and Mary is a top-rate team,” Connelly said. “We had nothing to lose, so we played our best and did what it took to win.”

The team registered wins in each of the doubles positions, with the Thompson twins notching the first win. Catrina and Christian Thompson edged out Kate Boomershine and Candice Fuchs 8-6 at No. 1. After trailing 6-3, Sarah Jane Connelly and Stastny overcame Linda Yang and Lena Sherbakov 9-8, (7-1) at No. 3.

This was Sarah Jane Connelly’s final home match of her career. The senior concluded with a 32-14 (.696) home mark in singles and a 36-13 (.735) record in doubles.

Sister Lauren Connelly and Buck followed Stastny and Sarah Jane Connelly’s lead, upsetting the No. 48 team of Amy Wei and Megan Muth 8-4 at No. 2.

The Tribe made the match more competitive in singles, with No. 122 Fuchs upsetting No. 37 Catrina Thompson 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1. But Christian Thompson put the Irish back in the lead with a win over Sherbakov at No. 3.

Yang collected a win over Sarah Jane Connelly 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 at No. 6 and later No. 62 Muth defeated No. 90 Buck at No. 2. But Notre Dame surged back with Lauren Connelly besting Wei at No. 4 and Stastny securing the win at No. 5 6-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The Irish next take on Illinois at Champaign on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.