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WOMEN’S TENNIS: Thompson invited to Championships

Ryan Kiefer | Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The luck of the Irish was with Catrina Thompson this weekend.

The junior was informed Tuesday that she had received one of the at-large berths to the ITA Indoor Championships, despite falling one match short of earning an automatic berth this weekend.

Thompson advanced to the semifinal round of the ITA Midwest Championships before falling in three sets to Northwestern’s Alexis Prousis 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-4. A win would have secured an automatic berth in the season’s second grand slam beginning Nov. 3.

Irish coach Jay Louderback was pleased with Thompson’s play and her good fortune, and said she was a few points away from winning her semi-final match.

“She didn’t play as well in the semis as she did in the quarters when she beat the DePaul player [Gergana Ganeva],” Louderback said. “She just made a few more errors in the semifinal, but it was a very close match.”

Catrina Thompson will also compete in the doubles tournament at the Indoor Championships in November with her sister Christian. The sisters won the first doubles grand slam of the year earlier this month at the ITA All-American Championships. Their performance in that tournament qualified them for the Indoor Championships.

For the rest of the Irish players, this past weekend’s Midwest Championships gave them an opportunity to qualify for the Indoor Championships next month. Although no other Irish players were able to qualify, many of those on the roster turned in solid results.

Notre Dame advanced two doubles teams to the semifinals. Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft advance to the semis on the strength of a 9-8 (7-2) quarterfinal win over Macall Harkins and Brianna Knue of Illinois. Buck and Teft, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, fell in the semifinals to the top seeded Cristelle Grier and Alexis Prousis from Northwestern 8-4.

Lauren Connelly and Kiki Stastny recorded a solid 8-5 win over Indiana’s No. 1 team of Sarah Batty and Laura McGaffigan in the quarterfinal round. The Hoosier team was seeded second in the tournament and is ranked 19th nationally.

Connelly and Stastny were tripped up by the Wisconsin team of Nicole Beck and Caitlin Burke in the semis. The Irish fell 8-4.

The doubles results this weekend encouraged Louderback.

“Both teams played really well,” he said. “It was good for them to play against other schools’ number one teams too, the competition was really good. With those two teams and the Thompsons, doubles will definitely be a strength of our team this year.”

Connelly also had a solid tournament in singles and advanced to the round of 16, winning two matches. The senior captain defeated Reedhina Parekh of Western Michigan in the first round by a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 score. A 7-5, 0-6, 7-6 (7-3) win over Beatrix Csordas of DePaul secured a berth in the round of 16. Csordas was seeded 13th in the tournament and is ranked No. 117 in the country. Connelly’s run ended with at 6-0, 6-2 loss to Northwestern’s Prousis. It was the third time in a calendar year that Connelly fell to the 50th ranked player in the country.

Louderback was complimentary of Connelly’s play.

“Lauren had a great tournament. The win in the second round was big for her over the seeded player,” he said.

Christian Thompson also advanced to the round of 16 before being upset by Georgia Rose of Northwestern 6-3, 6-2.

The Irish will compete in the final weekend of the fall schedule beginning Nov. 3. The Thompson twins will play at the National Indoor Championships while the rest of the team will travel to the University of Illinois to compete in the Midwest Blast tournament.

As the fall season nears its end, Louderback evaluated his team’s progress.

“We’ve been a little up and down this fall,” he said. “We’ve had some good results here and there in singles and have been pretty solid in doubles. I think by the time the spring season hits we will be putting it all together.”