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ND Women’s Tennis: Thompsons continue dominance in ITA’s

Ryan Kiefer | Thursday, November 3, 2005

Catrina and Christian Thompson’s assault on the Notre Dame women’s tennis record book will continue today at the second grand slam of the season, the ITA National Indoor Championships.

The Thompsons are attempting to become the first team from any school to win both the ITA All-American Championships and the National Indoor doubles titles in the same year.

The twin sisters, winners of the doubles title at the first grand slam last month, the All-American Championships, are the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s tournament. It is the first time Notre Dame has ever earned the top seed in a grand slam tournament.

Assistant coach Michelle Dasso, who coached the sisters at the All-American tournament, said she has seen them become more focused since they won the first grand slam in Irish history.

“Winning that tournament helped their mental confidence,” Dasso said. “They know they can win, but they also know everyone is gunning for them. They have been taking each match one at a time, and I hope that’s how they approach this weekend.

“This is the toughest draw in the country and they can’t get ahead of themselves.”

While the All-American Championships were played in the California heat, this weekend’s action will take place inside the Columbus Racquet Club at Ohio State University.

Dasso felt the indoor courts would be an advantage for the Thompsons.

“A big positive for us is that the good West coast teams have to come play inside,” Dasso said. “It’s usually hard for us to make the adjustment to the outdoors when we play them out there, but we won’t have to worry about that. They’ll be adjusting and playing on our surface.”

Catrina Thompson was an at-large qualifier to the singles draw for the Indoor Championships and will take to the court to face fifth-seeded Robin Stephenson of Alabama today.

Catrina Thompson is coming off a semifinal appearance at the Midwest Championships and has shown her ability to compete with some of the top players in the nation.

“It’s a great opportunity for her,” Dasso said. “She’s definitely a top player, and she’ll have the chance to take on some other top players this weekend. She has an advantage on the fast courts and could really put up some good singles wins.”

Dasso also felt that the singles play might help Catrina Thompson’s doubles game, as it would offer more competition and a chance to improve her intensity.

While the Thompsons will be competing in Columbus, Ohio, the rest of the No. 24 Irish will travel to Urbana, Ill., to play in the Midwest Blast, hosted by the University of Illinois.

Play will begin Friday in a simulated dual format. The Irish will play Illinois, Louisville and Wisconsin in dual matches, but team scores will not be kept.

Results will count for individual ranking purposes.

“There are good teams there, and it will be a good test for us as the fall season ends,” Dasso said. “It will help the freshmen get used to the dual match format, and everyone will get to play a lot of matches. It’s good for everyone to get match experience in the fall.”

Without the Thompson twins, the rest of the Irish will have the opportunity to play up a few spots in the lineup.

Dasso was excited that the team would be able to play better competition at the higher positions. She also said that she would most likely shuffle the lineup between matches to get different players playing different positions in the lineup.