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No. 2 Irish continue to roll

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Whether they play indoors or outdoors, the results are the same for the Irish. No. 2 Notre Dame defeated No. 29 BYU 5-2 in an indoor match March 10, then downed No. 23 Duke 4-3 March 15 and No. 19 Tennessee 6-1 March 16 in a pair of outdoor matches in San Diego, Calif.”This was a great trip for us,” Notre Dame coach Jay Louderback said. “There were two tough things we knew going into [it]. One was the altitude [against BYU] and it was good for us to have to handle that.”The other was to play our first outdoor matches. We hadn’t played any outdoors yet. For us to have to go outdoors for the first time, it was very good for us.”The Irish (15-1) took care of the No. 29 Cougars despite losing the doubles point for just the third time all season. The No. 5 ranked duo of seniors Christian and Catrina Thompson dropped their match against BYU’s Anastasia Surkova and Jenny Miccoli 8-3. The Thompsons also lost against Duke’s No. 36 pairing of Daniela Bercek and Melissa Mang. Christian Thompson also dropped all three of her singles matches during the week. “She had a rough week but played OK, especially against Duke,” Louderback said. “She was up and probably should have won.”But Christian Thompson’s teammates picked up the slack. Junior Brook Buck clinched the win against the Cougars with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Dolly Chang. Buck captured her three singles matches last week from the No. 6 position to improve her record to 11-1 in dual match play. Buck’s win over Duke’s Clelia Deltour played an important part in Notre Dame’s victory over the Blue Devils. The Irish captured the doubles point despite the Thompsons’ loss at No. 1 and overcame a slow start in the singles as Buck and Catrina Thompson won their matches early to give Notre Dame a 3-1 lead. “At one point it looked like it was going to be 6-1 us, but the Duke kids fought hard,” Louderback said. Duke (18-7) needed the remaining three matches to win, and it almost got them. No. 108 Mang downed No. 89 Christian Thompson (1-6, 6-4, 7-5) and Duke freshman Amanda Granson defeated Irish sophomore Kelcy Tefft (6-1, 1-6, 6-4) to tie the score at three. “[Duke] stayed in it and all of a sudden it was down to one match,” Louderback said.With the match on the line, Notre Dame freshman Cosmina Ciobanu responded. Ciobanu fought back after dropping the first set (2-6) in her match against Blue Devils junior Tory Zawacki to take the second set, 6-2. Then with her match tied 5-5 in the third set and the overall score knotted at three, Ciobanu took the final two games to win the match and give Notre Dame the victory.”Duke is ranked 23 but they’re a top-15 team,” Louderback said. “They just haven’t played a lot of good teams yet. Their schedule is tougher at the end of the year when they play all of the ACC teams. They’ll be a top 15 school. They’re very good and for us to go beat them, outdoors – they’ve been outside some.”Ciobanu improved her dual match record to 16-0 against Tennessee as she defeated Vicky Jones 6-2, 6-0. No. 27 Catrina Thompson also picked up her third match of the week with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Volunteer senior No. 22 Blakeley Griffith. For the season, Catrina Thompson is now 13-3 in dual matches from the No. 1 slot. “She played very well [against] Griffith. She’s a very, very good player,” Louderback said.Up next for Notre Dame is Wisconsin Thursday in Madison.