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Strong doubles spark trio of victories

Anne Loughery | Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The Irish were seeing purple and orange this weekend.

Literally.

When walking into Virginia Tech’s Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center Saturday, No. 26 Notre Dame was greeted by the school’s purple and orange courts, reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’s color schemes.

Virginia Tech’s bold school colors were an initial shock to the Irish as they competed in that location against both Boston College and Virginia Tech.

“I guess you could call it a home-court advantage,” freshman Christian Thompson said. “We got used to it once we started playing, but it was just really hard to adjust to at first.”

Despite having to face such challenging match environments all weekend – Friday’s opponent Virginia Commonwealth’s courts were overheated – the Irish overcame those challenges to register three victories.

The Irish defeated No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth 4-3, Boston College 6-1 Saturday and No. 69 Virginia Tech 5-2 Sunday.

Moreover, Notre Dame swept the doubles portion of each match after focusing on that aspect of its game in the practices before the weekend’s matches.

“Our coach is always telling us that it’s so important to win the doubles point because it’s difficult to win four singles matches against any team,” Thompson said. “The doubles point is so crucial, and we basically killed them this weekend in doubles.”

Sophomore Lauren Connelly was victorious all weekend in both singles and doubles, kicking off the weekend with doubles partner senior Alicia Salas with a win at the No. 2 position over Virginia Commonwealth’s Cristina Gago and Cristina Arribas 8-1.

The duo is 12-2 this season and has recorded victories in eight of their last nine matches. This was the first of several wins for Lauren Connelly, who remains undefeated in both singles and doubles this season.

“She has an extremely strong backhand,” assistant coach Michelle Dasso said. “She’s been solid so far this season.”

Freshman Catrina Thompson also saw success this weekend with a win over Gago from Virginia Commonwealth. The victory was Thompson’s third consecutive match-clinching win for the Irish.

She built on that success with a doubles win with partner Christian Thompson against Virginia Tech’s Elissa Kinard and Felice Lam 8-2 and a singles win over Lam 6-3, 6-2.

“Catrina wasn’t feeling well this weekend, but she really buckled down and showed how tough she could be,” Dasso said.

Sophomore Kristina Stastny continued her early season success with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Virginia Tech’s Meredith Holmes and combined on an 8-0 shutout with doubles partner junior Sarah Jane Connelly over Virginia Tech’s Ashley James and Carolina Rodriguez at the No. 3 position.

“She’s one of our hardest workers and it really showed this weekend,” Dasso said of Stastny. “Getting a shutout is especially hard in college tennis.”

Both Thompson and Dasso described the weekend’s wins as confidence-building experiences.

“We have a deep team,” Thompson said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we can beat a top ten team if we keep playing like this.”

The Irish host No. 20 BYU Friday.