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ND WOMEN’S TENNIS: Thompson twins move ahead in All-American

Kyle Cassily | Monday, October 3, 2005

Christian Thompson has it all. A mean baseline attack, a nasty drop shot and bulls-eye accuracy all mixed in with a natural flair for the game of tennis. And now she has three crucial All-American wins under her belt.

The Notre Dame junior on the women’s tennis team completed a clean sweep of the pre-qualifying draw in the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships this weekend. The Championships are the first of three events on the collegiate grand slam tour, where Thompson will join her sister Catrina in qualifying draw play on Tuesday.

Christian Thompson started her run towards the later rounds with an opening round 6-3, 6-2 victory over Colorado State’s Emily Kirchem, who is ranked 120th nationally. She then followed that up with a win over 125th-ranked Natalie Braveman of Pepperdine, 6-3, 6-1. Thompson then finished her weekend up nicely by topping 102nd ranked Kelly Anderson 6-3, 6-2.

“It’s going to be one match at a time; after every round she has gained a lot of confidence,” said Irish assistant coach Michelle Dasso, who is currently with the Thompson sisters in Los Angeles for the tournament.

“Last year she was hurt and struggling with a knee injury. She’s just really played to her potential again,” she said.

Christian and Catrina Thompson will need to win another three matches in order to secure a berth in the main draw of 32 competitors later in the week. Catrina Thompson is ranked 27th nationally and had gained an automatic berth into the qualifying round.

When put together, the two sisters form an even greater threat to their opposition, as they are ranked second in the nation in doubles. The two will try to make a run for the All-American doubles title in the main draw of 32 starting Thursday.

“[The Thompson twins] are extremely talented and can compete with anyone in the country,” Dasso said. “It’s just a matter of having confidence in them and staying positive with them. Their athleticism and competitiveness are their two biggest assets.”

The Thompson aces were not the only members of the women tennis team in action this weekend. The rest of the team traveled to Bloomington, Ind. to take part in the Hoosier Classic, put on by Indiana University.

Freshman Kelcy Tefft came through strong in her collegiate debut, after knocking off Indiana’s Brianna Williams, 6-2, 6-2, in the ‘C’ flight championship. Senior Kelly Nelson won her fifth straight match to take the ‘D’ flight final against Kansas State’s Vivian Yrureta, 6-3, 6-3. Nelson is returning after well over a year’s absence from competitive tennis and shows no signs of stopping.

Tefft didn’t slow down after taking the singles title in her flight, as she teamed up with junior Brook Buck to win the Hoosier doubles championship. The two were partners in junior tennis prior to college, where they were formerly the top-ranked tandem in the 18-and-under bracket.

The Irish pair upset the 19th-ranked team in the country, Indiana’s Sarah Batty and Laura McGaffigan, 9-7 in the championship match. Prior to that the women knocked off another Indiana team, 8-6, in the semifinals.

Another Irish tandem of Kristina Stastny and Lauren Connelly gained a consolation victory over Kansas State’s Fernanda De Valle and Vivian Yrureta, 8-2, but not before falling to the Indiana tandem that Buck-Tefft defeated in the championship.

Buck nearly won in singles play, in addition to doubles competition. Buck fell in the ‘A’ flight final to Indiana’s Batty 6-2, 6-2 after exhibiting solid play and victories over several fierce opponents. Freshman Katie Potts challenged for a title on the weekend as well, losing a nail-biter to Indiana’s McGaffigan in the ‘B’ flight final 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-4).

The Irish women will next welcome the University of Southern California on Oct. 14 in an exhibition head-to-head matchup. The Thompson twins will continue All-American play on Tuesday and could finish with a singles and doubles victory in hand by Sunday.