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Competitive Irish excel this weekend

Anne Loughery | Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Ask coach Jay Louderback to describe the Irish, and he will be quick to emphasize their competitive spirit.

“They like to compete,” Louderback said. “A competitor is someone that plays for every point. They’re not afraid to take a chance. When it’s a tight match, they’re not afraid to be aggressive and come into the net. If they’re in trouble, they play defensively to get the ball back and make their competitors work.”

No. 20 Notre Dame (7-1) proved they were deserving of Louderback’s description Sunday afternoon, outlasting Indiana 5-2. They claimed the doubles point – something that has been critical this season – and four of the six singles points against the No. 26 Hoosiers.

“All of our kids played very well this meet; they were very poised, even under pressure,” Louderback said. “Our two doubles teams started off a little slow, but fought their way back into it.”

No. 42 Catrina Thompson and Christian Thompson delivered the first win for the Irish 8-4 versus No. 45 Karie Schlukebir and Linda Tran at the No. 1 spot. The Thompsons are 6-2 this season in doubles matches and have won three of the last four matches against ranked opponents.

At No. 3, junior Sarah Jane Connelly and sophomore Kristina Stastny clinched the doubles point after defeating Laura McGaffigan and Dora Vastag 8-6.

“We played well early on,” Louderback said. “Our No. 3 doubles came through and played well when we needed it. We’ve always gotten the doubles win at No. 2, but we had some trouble there this week. It was good to see the other two doubles teams step up and really come through.”

The Irish also fared well in singles with wins at the Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 6. At No. 1 singles, No. 17 Salas bested No. 30 Dora Vastag 6-0, 6-2. Salas now has an 11-5 record against ranked opponents this season. At No. 6, Stastny defeated Grimm 6-3, 6-0, while Catrina Thompson secured the win for the Irish with a clinching 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Batty at No. 3. Sarah Jane Connelly rounded out the singles wins with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Schlukebir.

Last week, Louderback predicted that the Irish would face tough matches at every position and he was right.

The last two matches were settled in match tiebreakers. Tran edged out Christian Thompson at No. 2 and Lauren Connelly suffered her first loss of the season in a 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (10-8) decision to McGaffigan.

“This meet was a boost of confidence for us,” Stastny said. “Every time we play, we grow closer and closer as a team.”