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ND WOMEN’S TENNIS: Buckeyes compete at Eck

Dan Tapetillo | Friday, January 27, 2006

The No. 22 Irish look to continue their dominance over regional rival Ohio State (2-0) as Notre Dame opens its home slate this weekend with an 11 a.m. match Saturday at the Eck Tennis Pavillion.

The Irish currently hold a 12-3 all-time record over the Buckeyes and expect to continue their string of wins as the team is led by coach Jay Louderback, in his 18th season at the Irish helm, and junior twins Catrina and Christian Thompson.

“We’re hoping our hard training and practice will help us play well for the victory,” Christian Thompson said.

The Thompson’s, who are currently No. 1 in doubles in the ITA standings, are coming off a successful fall season as they captured the school’s first-ever ITA doubles title against a duo from Fresno State last October.

However, the Thompsons aren’t the only Irish doubles team gaining recognition as two other Notre Dame pairs have also earned nationally rankings.

“Our doubles are so talented,” Christian Thompson said. “Everyone proved themselves during the fall and we will be deep this season. I would be shocked if we lose critical doubles points.”

The duo of sophomore Brook Buck and freshman Kelcy Tefft are No. 35, followed by seniors Kiki Stastny and team captain Lauren Connelly at No. 45.

In singles, Catrina Thompson is No. 24 in the nation after finishing the fall with a record of 10-5. Also ranked in the ITA standings is Christian Thompson, No. 44 with a 7-3 record from the fall.

Returning for the Irish in singles this season are Connelly, Stastny, Buck, senior Kelly Nelson and sophomore Bailey Louderback.

“We have a lot of leadership with the three seniors and so much experience,” Catrina Thompson said.

But it isn’t just the veterans who are adding to the strength of the team. New to the Irish this year are freshman Tefft and Katie Potts.

“I think they have adjusted really well and are so talented,” Catrina Thompson said. “They have already contributed so much to the team that it is only going to add to the strength of everyone who is returning.”

Despite the team’s confidence, Notre Dame isn’t willing to take its Big East foe lightly. Ohio State began its spring season with a pair of 7-0 shutouts over Cincinnati and Bowling Green, led by junior Sonia Ruzimovsky.

“During the first match everyone always has nerves,” Catrina Thompson said. “And even though it is going to be tough, we will be ready.”