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ND Women’s Tennis: Trojans challenge Irish in tennis

Ryan Kiefer | Friday, October 14, 2005

Before the Irish and Trojans clash on the football field this weekend, the two schools will take to the tennis courts in what is being called “The Battle before the War.”

Today’s match against Southern California marks the first dual meet on the women’s tennis fall schedule.

The Irish will face tough competition this afternoon at the Eck Tennis Pavilion as the Trojans bring five ranked players to South Bend.

Coach Jay Louderback expects Southern California to field a tough squad this afternoon.

“They have a solid lineup, especially in singles,” he said. “They are a very deep team.”

The Irish will face several tough opponents in singles including the No. 9 in the country, Lindsay Nelson. The Trojans will also enter freshman Amanda Fink in the lineup against Notre Dame. Fink is coming off a semifinal showing at the first grand slam of the year, the All-American championships. After Fink, the rest of the Southern California lineup is comprised of upperclassmen.

Louderback said having experience brings an obvious advantage.

“They have a veteran team with a lot of girls who have played for a number of years,” he said. “That makes them tough throughout the lineup.”

Notre Dame has plenty of talent of its own to counter the Trojan attack.

Christian and Catrina Thompson will lead the Irish this afternoon. The twin sisters are coming off a gut-wrenching win in the finals of the All-American doubles championship. The win was the first grand slam title in Notre Dame women’s tennis history.

In addition to filling the No.1 doubles slot against the Trojans, the Thompsons will fill the top two singles spots as well, with Catrina expected to play No.1 and Christian expected to play No. 2.

The Thompsons’ early results in singles have been a pleasant surprise for the Irish. Both had strong showings in the All-American Championships, as they both advanced to the qualifying round. Christian compiled a 5-1 record with all wins coming against ranked opponents, while Catrina went 2-1 at the tournament.

The rest of the Irish squad will be excited to join the Thompsons for the first time in competition this season. While the Thompsons spent time at the All-Americans, the rest of the team competed in the Hoosier Invitational Oct. 1 in Bloomington.

Brook Buck and Kelsey Tefft highlighted the team’s performance at that tournament as the two teamed up to win the doubles title. Buck and Tefft will play No. 2 doubles this weekend. The two will also be entered into the singles lineup, with Buck filling the No. 3 position and Tefft competing at No. 6.

The bottom of the Irish lineup will play a pivotal role in the Irish’s success today. Solid play will be needed to combat Southern California’s depth. Veterans Lauren Connelly and Kiki Stastny will play No.3 doubles and No. 7 and No. 5 singles, respectively. Freshman Katie Potts will play No. 4 singles, and senior Kelly Nelson will round out the lineup at No. 8. Potts and Nelson will complete the doubles lineup at No. 4.

Louderback knows the match will be very good competition, but is confident in his team’s ability.

“I think we’re a much stronger team in singles this year,” he said. “I also think this match will be a good test for our doubles teams too. We were solid in doubles last year, but I think we’re even better this year.”

Louderback was also excited for the opportunity to play a dual match, the format most often used in the spring season.

“It’s nice to play something that’s similar to the spring,” he said. “It’s a lot different. There are such big momentum swings in dual matches. We need to get our girls, especially our freshmen, used to this type of competition.”

Despite USC’s prowess, Louderback felt his team could challenge the Trojans.

“We feel right now that we can compete with any team in the country,” he said.