Christian Thompson (File Photo)

#2 Irish Women's Tennis Aims For Eighth BIG EAST Title

BIG EAST Championship Notes in PDF Format
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April 19, 2007

Tampa, Florida • USF Varsity Tennis Courts

Friday, April 21
Quarterfinals, 9 a.m. (ET) – [1] Notre Dame (23-2) vs. [9] UConn (11-9)

Saturday, April 22
Semifinals, 9 a.m.

Sunday, April 23
Final, 9 a.m.

#2 NOTRE DAME AIMS FOR EIGHTH BIG EAST TITLE: The top-seeded and second-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team (23-2) will look for its eighth title in the BIG EAST Conference Championship this weekend at USF in Tampa. The Irish, who gained a first-round bye in the 12-team event, will open play against ninth-seeded UConn (11-9) on Friday at 9 a.m. (ET) in quarterfinal action. The Huskies advanced past eighth-seeded Seton Hall, 4-3, in the first round. With a victory, Notre Dame would then face either fourth-seeded Marquette (11-14), fifth-seeded West Virginia (12-10) or 12th-seeded Rutgers (6-12) on Saturday at 12 p.m. in the semifinals, while the top contenders in the other half of the draw are second-seeded and 39th-ranked USF (12-7) and third-seeded and 68th-ranked Louisville (10-12). The title match will be Sunday at 12 p.m. Notre Dame has reached the final in all 11 years since becoming a conference member, winning championships in 1996, ’97, ’99, 2001, ’03, `05 and `06.

IRISH IN THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: Notre Dame was named the No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST Conference Women’s Tennis Championship, which will take place Friday through Sunday at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The field features a 12-team bracket with the top four seeds earning opening-round byes. The winner receives the BIG EAST’s automatic berth into the NCAA Championship, which begins at campus sites on May 11. The Irish have earned the No. 1 seed every year but one (2003) since joining the conference, advancing to the final in all 11 previous appearances, winning titles in 1996, ’97, ’99, 2001, ’03, `05 and `06. ND faced Miami in the first nine title matches, beat Syracuse in 2005 and South Florida last year.

Senior Catrina Thompson is a leading candidate to repeat as the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player, as she is the highest-ranked singles player in the conference, at 26th. Thompson has captured the award each of the past two seasons. She also is eighth in doubles with her twin sister, Christian Thompson. The other nationally-ranked BIG EAST singles players are the South Florida duo of Shadisha Robinson (33rd) and Courtney Vernon (44th), plus Notre Dame’s freshman tandem of Cosmina Ciobanu (59th) and Colleen Rielley (125th). DePaul’s Dunja Antunovic (112th) is the final ranked player from the league. In doubles, junior Brook Buck and sophomore Kelcy Tefft are 19th, while the USF squad of Robinson and Gabriela Duch are 41st. Other past Notre Dame winners of the tournament MVP were Jennifer Hall in 1996 and former Notre Dame assistant and current Illinois head coach Michelle Dasso in 2000 and ’01.

Head coach Jay Louderback has been named BIG EAST Coach of the Year six times (1996, ’97, ’99, 2000, ’01, 06), and figures to once again be a candidate for that award, as his squad has ascended to #2 in the ITA national rankings, the best listing ever for a BIG EAST team.

CLASS OF THE CONFERENCE: Notre Dame has an incredible record of success in conference action, holding a 57-5 (.919) all-time record against conference foes, including a 24-4 (.857) record in the BIG EAST tournament. All five defeats came against Miami (Fla.), which was a fellow member of the BIG EAST Conference from 1996-2004. Notre Dame has a 38-2 (.950) all-time record against current BIG EAST schools, having lost to Marquette in 1989 and South Florida in 1993, long before they joined the league this season. Following seven years as an independent, the Irish were members of the North Star Conference from 1983-84 to 1987-88, the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from 1988-89 to 1994-95, and the BIG EAST since 1995-96. In 23 years of league membership, Notre Dame has been league champs 19 times (and runner-up the other four years) and won 27 consecutive matches against league foes from 1983-98.

ALL-TIME RECORDS AGAINST CURRENT BIG EAST TEAMS: See below Notre Dame’s all-time record against the current members of the conference.

School          Record vs.  BIG EAST Tourney    Last MeetingCincinnati  1-0         0-0                 `85 (fall)-W, 6-1Connecticut 0-0         0-0                 --DePaul          10-0            1-0                 `07-W, 7-0Georgetown  1-0         1-0                 `98 (BET)-W, 4-0Louisville  2-0         0-0                 `07-W, 6-1Marquette   9-1         0-0                 `07-W, 7-0Pittsburgh  0-0         0-0                 --Providence  1-0         1-0                 `97 (BET)-W, 4-0Rutgers         4-0         3-0                 `06 (BET)-W, 4-0St. John's  2-0         2-0                 `05 (BET)-W, 4-0Seton Hall  1-0         1-0                 `00 (BET)-W, 5-0South Florida   1-1         1-0                 `06 (BET)-W, 4-1Syracuse    4-0         2-0                 `05 (BET)-W, 4-0Villanova   0-0         0-0                 --West Virginia   2-0         1-0                 `01-W, 7-0Totals          38-2            13-0

WE ARE FAMILY: Notre Dame women’s tennis has long featured members of the same family on its teams. For the fifth consecutive season, Notre Dame will have a set of sisters on its roster: senior twins Catrina Thompson and Christian Thompson. They have already become the first set of Irish sisters — and first twins of either sex — to both become All-Americans. The previous three seasons had featured two pairs of sisters on each Irish roster, but that has changed with the graduation of Maggie Donohue in 2003 and Sarah Jane Connelly in 2005. Another family connection was added in 2005, as head coach Jay Louderback’s daughter, Bailey Louderback joined the team. He became the 11th Notre Dame coach — just the second in a women’s sport (along with softball’s Brian Boulac) — to have coached his son or daughter with the Irish. The family connection grew even larger this season when Louderback’s niece, Kali Krisik chose to play at Notre Dame.

CIOBANU CUT ABOVE THE REST: Freshman Cosmina Ciobanu has exploded onto the college tennis scene in her first season at Notre Dame. Ciobanu enters the BIG EAST Championship with a gaudy 32-4 record overall and 22-0 in dual matches. She is looking to become the first Irish player to ever finish a season undefeated in dual action (with a minimum of 10 victories). Ciobanu is the only Irish player and one of just two freshmen ranked among the nation’s top 100 players still undefeated in dual action. She also tops a pair of career and single-season Notre Dame records. She ranks first in career singles dual match winning percentage (22-0, 1.000) and career overall singles winning percentage (32-4, .889). Ciobanu also sits on top of each of those same categories for single-season.

NATION’S TOP FRESHMAN CLASS YIELDING IMMEDIATE RESULTS: The freshman trio of Cosmina Ciobanu, Kali Krisik and Colleen Rielley were considered by many as the top recruiting class in the country. The trio has left little doubt to that fact. They have registered a combined record (singles and doubles) of 147-33 (.817), singles record of 72-19 (.791) and doubles mark of 75-14 (.843).

BOTTOM OF ND LINEUP WINNING 86% OF MATCHES: The key to Notre Dame’s success this season has been its outstanding depth, as the Irish hold a combined 83-14 (.856) mark in the bottom two spots of their lineups. Notre Dame is 42-6 (.875) combined at Nos. 5-6 in singles, as well as 41-8 (.837) at Nos. 2-3 doubles.

ND WINNING 82% OF DOUBLES MATCHES THIS SPRING: Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable in partnered play this spring, going 60-13 (.822), winning the doubles point in 23 of their 25 matches. The Irish are 19-5 at No. 1, 22-3 at No. 2 and 19-5 at No. 3. On the season, Notre Dame teams have combined for a 98-25 (.797) record in doubles. Senior All-America twins Catrina Thompson and Christian Thompson, ranked eighth nationally, stand 25-8 on the season, while the No. 2 tandem of junior Brook Buck and sophomore Kelcy Tefft – who teamed up to win five USTA super national titles in juniors play – are ranked 19th and sporting a 21-5 record. Freshmen Cosmina Ciobanu and Kali Krisik began the spring with a six-match winning streak and are now 19-5. They fell out of the national rankings after peaking at 52nd. In all, the players on Notre Dame’s roster combined for 29 USTA super national gold balls in the juniors.

ND 11-2 AGAINST TOP-25 TEAMS: Notre Dame’s success has seen the Irish take on 13 squads ranked in the national top 25 at the time of the match. The Irish have wins against #12 Vanderbilt (4-3), #18 Clemson (5-2), #10 Baylor (5-2), #8 Northwestern (4-3), #23 Michigan (6-1), #7 North Carolina (5-2), #20 Wake Forest (7-0), #23 Texas A&M (5-2), #19 Texas (7-0), #23 Duke (4-3) and #19 Tennessee (6-1). Their only defeats came against #6 Georgia Tech (4-2) and #9 Northwestern (5-2).

ND BOASTING SCHOOL RECORD 28-MATCH WINNING STREAK AT HOME: Notre Dame has won 28 consecutive matches at home – 11 against top-25 opponents – since falling 4-3 to #13 Texas in the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Feb. 26, 2005.

LONGEST IRISH HOME WINNING STREAKS: See below a list of the longest home winning streaks in the 30-year varsity history of Notre Dame women’s tennis.

#, Dates                        Loss Ending It28, Feb. 27, 2005 - present         --25, Sept. 12, 1979 - Sept. 22, 1982 9/25/82 vs. Purdue, 7-024, April 9, 1988 - Feb. 24, 1991   2/24/91 vs. LSU, 6-214, Feb. 19, 1993 - Feb. 8, 1994    2/11/94 vs. #15 Kansas, 8-114, Sept. 7, 1985 - April 6, 1986   9/12/86 vs. Illinois, 5-313, Feb. 4, 2001 - Jan. 26, 2002    2/2/02 vs. #24 Kentucky, 4-3

KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME TENNIS: For the fastest results of Notre Dame tennis matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #8. The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame tennis match. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Michael Bertsch at, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.