Oct. 8, 2005
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Junior tennis twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) became just the fourth team from any school ever to advance to the title match of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, the season’s first grand slam, in back-to-back years with a dominating 8-1 triumph over the #3-ranked team in college tennis Saturday afternoon at the Riviera Tennis Club. The sisters, ranked second nationally, will take on a team from Fresno State in the doubles final on Sunday at 11 a.m. (PDT), and Radio Tennis will provide free live internet audio coverage.
The Thompsons defeated Croatians Iva Gersic and Maja Kovacek of New Mexico in what was a rematch of last year’s semifinals (won in a tiebreaker by Notre Dame). The first game proved to be the decisive one. With Catrina Thompson serving, the teams played through three deuces before the Irish finally prevailed on a Lobos lob that sailed wide. The Irish – whose returns of serve were outstanding throughout the match – won the first three points on Gersic’s serve in the ensuing game on the way to the first of their three service breaks. Notre Dame was never seriously challenged on its serve again, and the only Lobo victory came in the sixth game of the match, when New Mexico lost just a single point on Gersic’s serve.
The doubles final will feature the second-seeded Thompsons taking on the surprising squad of Spaniard Lucia Sainz and German Kathrina Winterhalter from Fresno State, who came in ranked just 41st in the nation. The Bulldogs have been extremely hot in the tournament, first beating teams ranked 16th, 20th, and 36th in qualifying to earn a spot in the main draw. Sainz and Wintherhalter then beat the eighth-ranked team in the nation and the 11th-ranked squad before their biggest victory, an 8-6 triumph over the top-ranked team in college tennis, Caroline Basu and Shadisha Robinson of Georgia, on Saturday.
Notre Dame has lost just eight total games in three matches thus far in the All-American Championships, which feature the top collegiate players in the country. The Irish opened with an 8-0 victory over the seventh-ranked team of Gabrielle Duch and Neyssa Etienne of South Florida. On Friday, the twins beat #6 Alice Barnes/Anne Yelsey of Stanford. With a win on Sunday, they could challenge the tournament record for fewest games lost by a doubles champion, which is 11 by Sarah Riske and Aleke Tsoubanos of Vanderbilt in 2002.
The Thompson sisters will try to deliver Notre Dame’s first-ever title in a collegiate grand slam event when making the second final appearance in school history. Last year, they became just the second set of twins ever to reach a grand slam doubles final – and the first in the All-Americans – following Tami and Teri Whitlinger of Stanford, who won the doubles title in the 1989 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
The Thompsons – who have been among the final four teams remaining in three of the last four grand slams – will try to become the first team from any school ever to reach the doubles final of the ITA All-American Championships in two consecutive years and come away with a victory. The three previous back-to-back finalists – Ania Bleszynski/Katie Schlukebir of Stanford (1995-96), Vanessa Catellano/Marissa Catlin of Georgia (1997-98), and Linda Faltynova/Katarzyna Kolodynska of Oklahoma State (2001-02) – all lost in both of their attempts at the title.
The Notre Dame twins improved to 10-4 in their careers in grand slam events. They are now 6-1 in the All-American Championships after Irish competitors had been just 2-5 in its doubles main draw prior to that.
Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships (October 8)Doubles - Main Draw #2 Catrina Thompson/Christian Thompson (ND) d.  #3 Iva Gersic/Maja Kovacek (New Mexico) 8-1 - semifinals
Note: Numbers in brackets are seedings. Numbers preceding names are ITA national rankings.