The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



ND Women’s Tennis: Thompsons take the court as singles Thursday

Ryan Kiefer | Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Christian and Catrina Thompson have made history on the doubles court.

Tuesday, the sisters will look to make a name for themselves on the singles court when they take on the field in the qualifying round of the ITA All American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

The tournament is the first of three collegiate tennis grand slams and features the nation’s best players. The weeklong competition features three stages – a pre-qualifying round, a qualifying round and a final round, which starts Thursday.

The Thompsons finished second in the doubles draw last year. Their high ranking – second in the ITA – allowed them to skip the first two stages of the tournament.

The sisters will begin doubles play Thursday in the final stage’s round of 16.

Singles action began this weekend for Christian Thompson, who advanced out of the pre-qualifying stage in singles. The junior won three matches in straight sets, defeating Emily Kirchem of Colorado State, Natalie Braverman of Colorado State and Kelly Anderson of Georgia Tech. All three players were ranked between 100 and 125 in the ITA. Thompson, who entered the tournament unranked, lost just 14 games in her three victories.

Assistant coach Michelle Dasso credited Christian Thompson’s success over the weekend to improved conditioning.

“Her knee was bothering her a lot last year,” Dasso said. “She lost a lot of confidence. Now she’s staying healthy and has been playing very well out here. Her conditioning has helped her a lot, especially with the heat out here.”

Christian Thompson will begin play Tuesday morning when she faces Nika Koukhartchouk of Mississippi. She could face the tournament’s No. 7-seed Sabrina Cappannolo of Arizona State in the second round. Both Christian and Catrina Thompson will have to win three matches over the next two days to advance to the final stage of the singles tournament.

Dasso was optimistic about Christian Thompson’s chances of advancing through the draw.

“I think she’s got a great chance,” Dasso said. “She gained a lot of confidence this weekend, and I think it was good for her to play those matches early this week. She’s at her best when she uses a variety of shots, mixing it up with slices and top spins like she did this weekend.”

Christian’s sister Catrina did not have to play the pre-qualifying round because of her No. 27 national ranking. She will be taking to the court for her first match of the year Tuesday when she faces Berecz Boglarka of Florida.

Catrina Thompson, the number two seed in the qualifying tournament, will not have to face another seeded player until the third round. Dasso said that Catrina will look to use her strong groundstrokes to overpower her opponents this week in singles.

Coach Dasso said that doubles will be the sisters’ focus this week. However, she felt that playing singles could only help their doubles game later in the week.

“They both have a great chance in the singles,” she said. “It will help them in doubles too. The longer you are out here and the more comfortable you get, the better off you are.”

Dasso’s outlook for the sisters in doubles kept the level of competition in perspective.

“They are playing well, and they have improved since last year. They are mentally tougher. But this is one of the best tournaments of the year. It’s very competitive and there are no easy matches.”