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Women’s Tennis: Irish ready for strong Vanderbilt

Dan Tapetillo | Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Irish have proven themselves as one of the nation’s top programs after remaining undefeated 16 matches into the season. However, Notre Dame will still face competition today as it heads back to the road to face No. 11 Vanderbilt.

“We have both had really great seasons and [we] know they have a strong lineup,” junior Catrina Thompson said. “Every match is going to be a big one. It’s going to come down to who competes the best.”

Under the leadership of junior Amanda Fish, the Commodores (15-2) are coming off their third SEC sweep after topping Mississippi State 7-0 in Starkville. After Vanderbilt swept the doubles point, Fish followed with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Anastasia Kugakolova. Other players contributing to the team’s depth are Taka Bertrand and Amanda Taylor. Bertrand defeated Martina Banikova 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2. Taylor followed the win with a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 1-0 (13) victory over Renee Joseph.

However, the Irish are trying not to focus on winning streaks or rankings.

“We have taken every match one at a time this season and not been caught up in anyone’s rankings,” freshman Kelcy Tefft said. “Vanderbilt definitely has a great team, so we are hoping we play our best tennis.”

The Irish have not lost a doubles point this entire season, and they enter the match with two ranked doubles teams.

The No. 3 pairing of Catrina and Christian Thompson leads Notre Dame in doubles, followed by the No. 29 twosome of Tefft and sophomore Brook Buck.

“We have had an awesome year in doubles and are hoping we don’t drop the point this whole season,” Catrina Thompson said. “If one team has an off day, we have two others that give our opponents difficult doubles matches.”

In singles, No. 30 Catrina Thompson leads the team at No. 1 and holds an 11-3 record in duals matches this season. She is followed by No. 74 Christian Thompson, who had difficulties closing out her last match against Iowa’s Hillary Mintz.

Following its match against Vanderbilt, Notre Dame will return home to play Eastern Michigan on Friday.

“It will be nice being able to play at home again after being on the road during spring break and facing tough home crowds at schools like Texas A&M,” Tefft said. “So we will definitely take advantage [of that] when we face Eastern Michigan.”