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Women’s Tennis: Talented squad still striving for success

Anne Loughery | Thursday, February 17, 2005

Talent-laden. Tenacious. Team-oriented.

The No. 21 women’s tennis team possesses the characteristics of a top-10 team. Notre Dame’s roster is sprinkled with ranked players – sophomore Catrina Thompson has attained a No. 69 ranking in singles and a No. 2 ranking in doubles with sister Christian, while Brook Buck is ranked No. 85 in singles.

In addition, the Irish (4-2) have already demonstrated their staying power this season, upsetting No. 20 Michigan and collecting wins against three other ranked teams.

But although the Notre Dame has had its share of success this season, the team still finds itself wanting more.

“We’ve had a pretty good start this season,” freshman Brook Buck said. “We have the potential to break into the top 10 or 12 this year and I really, really hope we do. There have been a couple of matches we could’ve won, but we just couldn’t close it out.”

Last week’s meet against No. 17 Harvard was one of those matches.

After claiming the doubles point, No. 69 Catrina Thompson registered the first Irish victory in singles, upsetting No. 27 Courtney Bergman 6-1, 6-4. Following her lead, junior Kiki Stastny defeated No. 93 Preethi Mukundan 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

A Notre Dame victory seemed likely, as the Irish maintained a 3-1 advantage after three singles matches. However, the Irish saw that lead quickly slip away as Harvard tied the match 3-3 and pulled ahead for a 4-3 win after the final singles matches.

“It was hard to lose to Harvard because we were right there with them,” Buck said. “I think we just needed more confidence. A win this weekend would help us prove to ourselves that we can be a top 10 or 12 team.”

This weekend, the Irish will have plenty of opportunities to gain the confidence they need to spur themselves toward their ultimate goal – an NCAA championship.

“These next few matches will be tough,” coach Jay Louderback said. “But it’s good to play tough teams because it will help us later in the season.”

Louderback believes this weekend’s matches against Duke and North Carolina will condition the doubles teams and strengthen the singles players for the competition they will encounter in the NCAA tournament.

“We have the depth that we need in doubles,” Louderback said. “It’s just a matter of us getting that depth at singles. If we have all strong singles, it will be hard for a team to get four wins in singles against us.”

As the team fortifies its roster with each match, Buck says she believes there is nothing the team cannot accomplish. The team’s attainment of a top 10 or 12 ranking is imminent.

“We have the potential to do a lot of great things this season,” Buck said. There’s no reason we can’t break into the top 10 or 12 this year. We just need to go into each match with a lot of confidence and knowing that we can win.”