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ND WOMEN’S TENNIS: Twins compete at season’s first slam

Ryan Kiefer | Thursday, October 6, 2005

The Thompson sisters learned what grand slam tennis is all about this week at the ITA All-American championships in Tulsa, Okla. – upsets.

The sisters competed in the singles qualifying rounds of the collegiate tennis season’s first grand slam Tuesday and Wednesday.

Christian Thompson made a run as an unranked player in the tournament, winning two matches over ranked opponents before losing a three-set match to No. 50 Alexis Prousis of Northwestern. She was just one match short of qualifying for the main draw in singles.

Catrina Thompson, No. 27 nationally and second in the qualifying tournament, suffered a first-round upset loss to Florida’s Boglarka Berecz, also in three sets. She then bounced back to win two matches in the consolation draw.

Assistant coach Michelle Dasso was pleased with the results despite the ups and downs both players experienced.

“Christian played very well against the best competition in college tennis,” Dasso said. “She was literally a couple of points away from qualifying. Catrina showed a lot of heart bouncing back from that tough loss. She fought cramps in that match and hasn’t been feeling well the last two weeks. Winning those last two matches was huge for her confidence.”

Christian Thompson’s tournament began Tuesday with a familiar face across the net, Georgia Tech’s Kelly Anderson.

Thompson had defeated Anderson 6-3, 6-2 Sunday in the pre-qualifying tournament to earn a place in Tuesday’s qualifier. Anderson lucked into a place in the qualifier when Thompson’s original opponent, Mississippi’s Nika Koukhartchouk, withdrew due to injury. Tuesday’s match was similar to Sunday’s with Thompson again prevailing, this time by a 6-4, 6-2 score.

Thompson played Arizona State’s Sabrina Cappannolo in her next match. Thompson defeated the No. 37 player in the country 6-4, 6-2. Cappannolo was the highest ranked player to ever be defeated by an Irish junior.

Just one match from earning a place in the main draw, Christian Thompson faced Prousis, who defeated her twice last season. The two battled into the third set before Prousis emerged with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory.

Dasso thought a few points determined the outcome of the match.

“It seemed like every game went to deuce,” she said. “A few points here and there, even in that last set when it was 6-2 and the result may have been different. It was definitely a nail biter.”

Thompson’s five wins this week (three in pre-qualifying and two in qualifying) all came against ranked opponents. Thompson entered the season with just two wins over ranked players in her first two years with the Irish.

“She’s improved her all-around game and she’s in a lot better shape,” Dasso said. “The difference in her conditioning is like night and day.”

Catrina Thompson suffered a disappointing loss in the opening round. She captured the first set and was up 3-0 in the second before cramps and dehydration took their toll on the Irish junior. She fought hard but fell 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5.

Dasso thought Thompson experienced some nerves in her first match of the season and lost her aggression.

“She got tentative when she took the lead in that second set and stopped coming to the net,” Dasso said. “That combined with the cramps and some nerves gave her opponent an opening. The players are so good out here that when you give them an opening, they are going to take advantage of it.”

Catrina Thompson scored her first wins of the year when she defeated Arizona State’s Kady Pooler 6-3, 6-1 and Duke’s Jackie Carleton 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 Wednesday in the consolation draw. Both players were ranked in the top-85 in the nation.

With singles play completed for the sisters, the Thompsons will focus their attention on the main draw of the doubles tournament beginning Thursday. They are ranked No. 2 in the nation in doubles and finished second in the ITA All-American tournament last season.

Dasso said the sisters have been anxious all week.

“They are fired up,” she said. “We have been out here a long time and they are excited and ready to play.”