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ND women’s tennis: Irish send six players to ITA Nationals

Joe Meixell | Thursday, November 2, 2006

The Irish will send six players to the ITA National Indoor Championships this weekend at Ohio State. But while the tournament is one of three national meets throughout the year that feature the top tennis players from around the nation, it will have no direct NCAA implications.

“There’s really nothing that [they] gain if they win this. It’s really just an opportunity to get the top players from around the country together,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “But it is one of the chances to boost your ranking nationally. It’s going to help in the spring when they’re seeding for the NCAA Tournament.”

Freshmen Colleen Rielley and Cosmina Ciobanu will represent the Irish in the 32-player singles field. Rielley and Ciobanu qualified for the event thanks to their scene-stealing performances at the ITA Regional Finals last week at Michigan State. Rielley defeated Ciobanu 7-5, 6-4 in the finals of that event, marking the first time freshman teammates have ever faced each other in ITA Finals history.

“It’s been tough for them to practice this past week because they’ve had a lot of tests,” Louderback said. “But they’re very excited. We’ll just see how they do because they’re up against some of the top competitors.”

Rielley faces Clemson’s Carole Salge while Ciobanu will play third-seeded Kristi Miller of Georgia Tech.

On the doubles side, All-American seniors Catrina and Christian Thompson earned the No. 1 seed in the 16-team field by virtue of their second place finish at the Rivera All-American Championships October 5-8. The good news for the pair is that Arizona State’s Roxanne Clarke and Cady Pooler, who defeated the sisters in the Rivera Championships, are not listed on the bracket for this weekend’s tournament.

The Thompson twins recently won their first professional tournament over the summer in the Via Christi Women’s 10K of Wichita in July. The pair is allowed to compete in professional tournaments while maintaining NCAA eligibility by not collecing prize money from any events.

At the opposite end of the bracket, junior Brook Buck and sophomore Kelcy Tefft will square off against second-seeded Suzi Babos and Zsuzsanna Fodor from California. Babos is also seeded first in the singles tournament. Buck and Tefft qualified for the event by winning the ITA Midwest Championships.

“The doubles teams have been playing a lot more doubles than normal over the past few days in order to get ready for this meet,” Louderback said. “Both teams know what to expect.”