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Women’s Tennis: Irish confidence high entering Sunday’s match

Dan Tapetillo | Friday, March 3, 2006

Equipped with the new-found sense of confidence that comes with being a top 5 team, the No. 5 Irish are anticipating Sunday’s 11 a.m. home contest against No. 49 Illinois.

“We are hoping for a great match and to continue playing great in doubles and singles,” Irish junior Catrina Thompson said. “Everyone has been really focused in practice and being in the top five has really given the team a new sense of confidence.”

Last weekend, the Irish (10-0) defeated No. 51 Wisconsin 6-1 on Saturday and shutout No. 27 Indiana Sunday, extending their 11-match home winning streak. Especially heartening, both victories claimed the doubles point – giving the team confidence as it headed into singles. The Irish are now 10-for-10 in earning the coveted doubles point this season.

The Irish are the only program in the nation to post three ranked teams. The No. 2 pairing of Catrina and Christian Thompson have led the Irish at No. 1 for most of the season and are 8-1 this season. Following at No. 2 is the No. 29 twosome of sophomore Brook Buck and freshman Kelcy Tefft. The No. 49 duo of seniors Kiki Stastny and captain Lauren Connelly are the No.3 doubles pairing for the Irish.

“Getting the doubles point is really important for a team mentally,” Notre Dame sophomore Bailey Louderback said. “I think it is what has really helped to give us momentum going into the singles matches. There is a lot less pressure when you only need to get three of the six singles matches to win.”

Louderback said she is looking for similar impressive performances all the way down the lineup this week, as Illinois will not be a pushover.

Illinois’ season has been punctuated with both success and failure. After beginning the season with a winning record, the Illini have dropped their last four matches. Last weekend, the Illini dropped a 6-1 decision to No. 32 Purdue. Despite an impressive 6-7, 6-3, 1-0 (3) win from sophomore Macall Harkins over the Boilermakers’ nationally ranked Hala Sufi at No.1, Purdue proved to be too strong for Illinois.

“Illinois has struggled a little this year,” Thompson said. “But they have a competitive team so we won’t be underestimating them.”