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Undefeated Irish face two ranked opponents

Dan Tapetillo | Friday, February 17, 2006

After coming off a dominating 6-1 win over rival Michigan Tuesday, the No. 15 Irish (5-0) are confident as they head into this weekend’s matches against two top-30 opponents. On Saturday, the Irish face No. 22 Tennessee, and the competition will only get tougher Sunday with No. 9 Harvard coming to the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

“This weekend is definitely going to be tough,” junior Christian Thompson said. “But ever since we beat [then-No. 10] North Carolina, we know we can compete with the best teams in the country.”

This season, Tennessee has proven themselves with wins over Purdue and Illinois. However, the Lady Vols are coming off of a recent loss to No. 23 Wake Forest, a team the Irish defeated 4-3 last weekend.

“Wake Forest was not an easy team to beat,” junior Catrina Thompson said. “So [Tennessee’s loss to Wake Forest] does not mean Tennessee is going to be an easy win for us on Saturday.”

Heading into this weekend’s matchup, Tennessee holds a pair of nationally ranked doubles teams. Playing at No. 1 for the Lady Vols this season is the national No. 28 duo of Blakeley Griffith and Bryce Marable. The second nationally ranked pairing for the Lady Vols is Melisssa Schaub and Samantha Orlin, who stand at No. 38 in the country.

But the Irish are the only program in the nation that post three ranked doubles pairings. The No. 1-ranked duo of Christian and Catrina Thompson have led the Irish this season with only one loss to their record. The Thompsons are followed by the No. 35-ranked pairing of sophomore Brook Buck and freshman Kelcy Tefft, who are currently on an eight-match winning streak. They are followed by the No. 45-ranked seniors Kiki Stastny and captain Lauren Connelly.

“[Stastny and Connelly] have been such a big part of our success this season,” Christian Thompson said. “They have a great record in doubles and we wouldn’t be as strong as we are without them.”

Leading the team in singles this weekend are Christian and Catrina Thompson, who both have earned national rankings at Nos. 24 and 44, respectively. Christian Thompson is coming off of a tough win over Michigan’s No. 48-ranked Nina Yaftali (6-4, 7-5) last Tuesday.

“The win at Michigan [over Yaftali] was really big,” Christian Thompson said. “It was because it took a lot of mental strength for me to pull it out.

In Sunday’s match against Harvard, the top-ranked Thompsons will face the challenging No. 6-ranked doubles pairing of Melissa Anderson and Elsa O’Riain.

“This weekend is definitely going to prove where our team stands against the best in the country,” Catrina Thompson said.