Irish defeat Terrapins, Illini
By KEVIN BERCHOU
The Notre Dame women's tennis team found out last weekend exactly where it stands among NCAA frontrunners — right along side them.
Notre Dame played brilliantly in dual-meet action, trouncing Maryland and Illinois. Defeating these highly competitive teams brimming with tennis talent demonstrated the Irish as a formidable force.
"We played very well this past weekend," Irish head coach Jay Louderback said. "To win both matches the way we did really helps our confidence."
In a rare Friday afternoon match, the Irish blistered Maryland's Terrapins, 9-0, dropping just a single set along the way.
Junior Michelle Dasso, the squad's top player, led the charge with a No. 1 singles victory over Maryland's Delila Causevic, who is arguably the country's top freshmen. Dasso's breathtakingly close match was decided in thrilling fashion when she rallied from a 5-2 second-set deficit to pull out a 7-5, 7-6 (7-1) heart stopper.
"Michelle played extremely well," Louderback said. "Even when she got down, she came through with a great victory over a great opponent."
Junior Kimberly Guy, senior Kelly Zalinski and sophomore Lindsey Green each scored straight-set victories. Green's 6-3, 6-4 win over Maryland's Chrissie Terrill ran her record to a perfect 5-0 in spring dual-match play.
Sophomore Becky Varnum rallied to take her match against the Terrapins' Jessica Johnson, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, keeping the shutout intact.
Even with the match already won after singles play, the Irish continued to pour it on as doubles play commenced. The coupling of Dasso and Varnum netted an easy 8-3 win, while the pairing of Guy and freshman Katie Cunha was rarely tested, winning 8-4.
"It's nice to see us play well in doubles, even when the outcome has already been decided," Louderback noted. "We were able to stay focused."
After moving its record to 4-1 in beating Maryland, Notre Dame took to the courts Sunday in hopes of extending its winning streak against Illinois.
The Illini proved to be no match for the Irish juggernaut. The Notre Dame women dropped just one match in battering their opponents 8-1.
Once again it was Dasso who led the charge, posting an easy 6-1, 6-1 victory over Illinois' Eldina Dazlic.
Green continued her fine play, scoring her sixth win in as many singles matches as she knocked off Michelle Webb in straight sets.
Varnum, Zalinski and Guy all won easily, while sophomore Nina Vaughan lost a tough three-set marathon, the only defeat for the Irish all weekend.
Having last played two weeks before against Yale, Louderback was worried that his troops might be a bit rusty. His fears quickly eased as the Irish women won nearly every battle, and more importantly, both wars.
"It was big to get two nice wins over solid teams, especially since we were off a couple of weeks," Louderback said.
The Irish return to the courts this weekend to compete in the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Madison, Wis.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, February 15, 2000