ND WOMEN'S TENNIS: Irish netters win on both coasts
By COLIN BOYLAN
While their teammates competed in a tournament more than 2,000 miles away, Irish tennis players Nina Vaughn and Caylan Leslie were making a successful homecoming to Southern California.
Vaughn, a resident of Corona Del Mar, and Leslie, of Newport Beach, took part in the Adidas Invitational at Palm Springs, Calif. — an individual event that showcased the top talent in women's collegiate tennis.
Both players fared well in their first official competition of the new season.
Leslie fought her way to the finals of the consolation bracket before losing a tough match to UCLA's Lauren Fisher 7-5, 5-7, 7-6. Vaughn followed suit by winning her first consolation match and subsequently teamed up with Leslie to reach the quarterfinals of the doubles draw.
And although she stayed focused on the task at hand, Vaughn admits it was nice to be back in California for the weekend.
"It was nice to be able to see my family," she said. "We sort of had a home crowd advantage going on there."
Especially surprising was the play of Sophomore Leslie, whose gritty performance against the 76th-ranked Fisher proved that she belonged among the top players in the game.
"I thought Caylan looked leaps and bounds better than she did last year and she was awesome last year," said Vaughn.
Head coach Jay Louderback agreed.
"I think Caylan had a very good tournament against some tough competition," he said.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Notre Dame team competed the Georgia Invitational, a four-team tournament among the Notre Dame, Georgia, Kansas State and Miami tennis squads.
Although not official for the purposes of record keeping, the tournament was nonetheless an important gauge of the team's early season progress.
Senior Becky Varnum stole the show when she topped Georgia's Anne Nguyen, the 12th-ranked singles player in the nation, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Varnum finished the weekend with five victories overall, including three in doubles competition.
Senior Lindsey Green also had a solid weekend, winning a tough match against Kansas State's Petra Sedlmajerova on Saturday.
All things considered, Louderback was encouraged by the progress of his players.
"We played well and we improved as the tournament went on," he said. "I definitely like what I saw this weekend."
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, October 2, 2001