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Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024
The Observer

ND WOMEN'S TENNIS: No. 22 Notre Dame bests UNLV, falls to BYU

The Irish had their share of triumphs and heartbreaks over spring break, claiming a victory over the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, 5-2, but dropping their match against Brigham Young University, 6-1.

The No. 22 Irish (6-6) showed just how much potential they possess, remaining poised under pressure in what coach Jay Louderback described as an especially tight match against No. 30 UNLV (5-2).

"It was really great knowing that we could win a tough match like that," Louderback said. "Our kids played hard and really battled. We won 5-2, but it felt like it could've easily been 4-3."

The Irish jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the March 10 match after claiming the doubles point. The nation's No. 2 duo of Catrina and Christian Thompson defeated Elena Gantcheva and Sharon Marin 8-2 at No. 1 while freshman Brook Buck and junior Lauren Connelly collected an 8-2 win over Anne Claire Ortiz-Luis and Linda Tempelfelde at No. 2.

Senior Sarah Jane Connelly and junior Kiki Stastny dropped a hard-fought match against Gyorgyi Zsiros and Claire Smith 8-4 to round out the doubles matches.

With the doubles point secured and the team's momentum in large supply, Notre Dame looked to carry that success over to singles.

And the Irish didn't disappoint.

Sarah Jane Connelly was the first to walk off the court with a win at No. 6 over Tempelfelde 6-2, 6-1. Though No. 39 Catrina Thompson fell 7-6, 6-1 to No. 21 Gantcheva 7-6, 6-1, No. 59 Buck followed up with a quick win over Zsiros 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 to put the team within a point of victory.

But UNLV's Cindy Treber made the match more competitive, recording a win over Stastny 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 at No. 4 to put the score at 3-2.

Lauren Connelly's 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win over Smith secured the win for the Irish at No. 5 after the score was tied at 3-3.

At No. 3, Christian Thomp-son added to the team's success with the final win, edging out Ortiz-Luis 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

No. 24 Brigham Young 6, Notre Dame 1

The Irish did not fare as well against No. 24 BYU (10-10) on March 12.

The team felt the void of Christian Thompson, who played her doubles match but was sidelined because of a knee injury for singles. Notre Dame registered victories at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, but were unable to secure the win.

"Pulling [Christian] out of singles really hurt us," Louderback said. "Any time you're missing one of your top players, it affects the team."

Prior to her injury, No. 2 Christian and sister Catrina Thompson collected the lone victory in doubles for the Irish at No. 1 doubles over No. 56 Lauren Jones and Dolly Chang 8-0. The remaining doubles teams were not as successful, with Buck and Lauren Connelly falling 8-5 to Anastasia Surkova and Jenny Miccoli at No. 2 and Sarah Jane Connelly and Stastny dropping their match 8-5 for a loss against Olga Boulytcheva and Sofia Holden. This is only the second time this season that the Irish have lost the doubles point, a testament to the hard work they have put in, Louderback said.

"I've been real proud of our doubles this season," Loud-erback said. "They're all tough competitors. I think this was one of our worst matches this season, but I guess we were due for a bad one. We've been playing so well the rest of the year."

In singles, Catrina Thompson bested Jones 6-2, 6-2 to register the lone point for the Irish. Lauren Connelly was the only other Irish player to win a set in singles. Although she bounced back from a loss in her first set tiebreaker versus Holden, she was unable to secure the win and fell 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 at No. 4.

Chang defeated junior Liz Donohue 7-6, 7-6 at No. 6. Suffering an upset, Buck lost to Boulytcheva 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2. Stastny, filling in for the injured Christian Thompson, played at No. 3, but dropped her match 6-0, 6-2 to Surkova at No. 3. Finally Miccoli defeated Sarah Jane Connelly 6-1, 6-1 at No. 5.

The Irish will return to the courts on Friday versus Tennessee.