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ND WOMEN’S TENNIS: Fall tournament play starts

Ryan Kiefer | Friday, September 30, 2005

Looking across the net and seeing a teammate doesn’t usually get the competitive juices flowing. But so has gone the life of a Notre Dame women’s tennis player for the last month.

For the first four weeks of practice, the only competition the team has experienced has been playing practice sets against each other.

It’s easy to see why the team is geared up to take to the courts this weekend. The Irish will enter players in two tournaments, the Hoosier Classic in Bloomington, Ind., and the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

It will be the first matches of the fall season for the majority of players, and coach Jay Louderback summed up his team’s mentality in simple terms.

“They are anxious to play other people,” he said.

Three Irish seniors – Lauren Connelly, Katrina Stastny, and Kelly Nelson – competed in last weekend’s Maryland Invitational.

Connelly and Stastny, expected to play No. 2 doubles this season, won the consolation title in the “A” flight of the doubles draw.

The tandem also competed in the singles “A” flight going a combined 4-3. Nelson reached the final in the “B” flight of singles.

The rest of the Irish squad enters the weekend with a clean slate and high expectations, none higher than that of Christina and Christian Thompson.

The twin sisters are the No. 2 ranked doubles team in the country. They will put the ranking on the line in California this weekend in the pre-qualifying round of the ITA tournament. The Thompsons were runners up in the tournament last year.

Louderback spoke highly of his talented doubles team.

“They will enter every tournament feeling that they have a good chance to win it,” he said.

The rest of the team will enter the Hoosier Classic, a tournament expected to provide good competition for the Irish. Eight teams will participate, entering players in five flights of singles and one flight of doubles.

Brook Buck, ranked No. 54 nationally in singles, will lead the Irish in the “A” flight. Seniors Kiki Stastny and freshman standout Katie Potts will enter the “B” flight. Lauren Connelly and Kelcy Tefft will battle in the “C” flight, and Kelly Nelson will round out the singles lineup in the “D” flight.

Louderback will enter three teams in the doubles draw.

Teams expected to challenge the Irish include the host Hoosiers, who will field a competitive squad featuring three talented, international freshmen. Kansas State, Kansas and Louisiana State will also enter strong squads this weekend.

Louderback was excited for the tournament for several reasons.

“It’s a very good tournament,” he said. “It will be nice too with the twins gone, players will be playing higher in the lineup than they are used to and will be facing better players. Two freshmen [Potts and Tefft] will also get a chance to play in their first college tournament.”

The fall season will allow the Irish to gain experience before the more intense indoor and spring seasons begin. Louderback also said it would give players who did not play much during the summer the chance to get back into competition.

The Irish will open the home portion of their fall schedule Oct. 14 against Southern California.