May 5, 2005
Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) earned invitations to both the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Singles Championship and the NCAA doubles tournament – along with her twin sister, Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) – when the fields for the national individual championships were announced on Thursday. Notre Dame’s top singles player and this season’s team MVP, Catrina Thompson is in an elite group of just 28 players in the country that earned spots in both the singles and doubles draws. The events are slated for May 23-28 at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
Catrina Thompson, who enters the postseason ranked 44th nationally in singles, was an automatic qualifier. The top four players in each of the six regions – Thompson, #4 Audra Cohen of Northwestern, #21 Cristelle Grier of Northwestern, and #39 Cynthya Goulet of Illinois in the Midwest Region – gained automatic bids, while the remaining 40 slots in the 64-player field were available on an at-large basis.
The Thompson sisters, ranked sixth in college tennis after being the first ND doubles team ever to reach #1 earlier this spring, took up one of the Midwest Region’s two automatic slots in the 32-team doubles tournament. Cohen and Grier, ranked second after taking over the #1 ranking from the Thompsons, filled the other, while Michigan’s team of Michelle DaCosta and Kara Delicata earned one of the 20 at-large berths.
It will be the 11th time in the last 13 years that Notre Dame has had at least one entry in both the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments.
This also marks the 10th time in the last 13 years that a Notre Dame player has garnered a spot in both the NCAA singles and doubles championships, but it was done previously by just three individuals: Wendy Crabtree (1993, ’94, ’95), Jennifer Hall (1997, ’98, ’99), and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso (1999, 2000, ’01).
The Thompsons will be in the NCAA doubles tournament for the second time in as many years. Only six other teams earned invitations to both the ’04 and ’05 events, with the others being Sarah Foster/Aibika Kalsarieva (Kentucky), Chloe Carlotti/Virginia Tomatis (Mississippi), Kentdall Cline/Aniela Mojzis (North Carolina), Katie Ruckert/Kendra Strohm (Texas), Dianne Hollands/Maja Mlakar (Arizona), and DaCosta/Delicata (Michigan).
Thompson currently stands 22-8 on the season, with a 10-8 record against nationally-ranked players (5-3 against higher-ranked foes). She has a 16-7 mark in her first season at No. 1 singles – being the first sophomore to play No. 1 for ND since Dasso did so in 1999. Thompson, who has won eight of her last 10 matches and was last week named the BIG EAST tournament MVP, has a 16-4 record away from home this season and an 8-4 mark outdoors. She is 20-0 when winning the opening set and 10-2 vs. regional opponents, including an impressive 6-2, 6-2 upset of Cohen in dual-match action last month (it was the freshman phenom’s first straight-set defeat of her collegiate career). Thompson was ranked 103rd in the preseason, and she peaked at a career-high 32nd in February.
Ten of her matches this season came against players that earned NCAA berths, and Thompson held a 5-5 record against that group, with the victories coming against Harvard’s Courtney Bergman, North Carolina’s Aniela Mojzis, Petra Dizdar of Texas, Oklahoma State’s Iryna Tkachenko, and Cohen.
The Thompson twins stand 25-6 on the season, including a 13-3 mark against nationally-ranked teams (3-1 vs. higher-ranked teams). They are 17-4 at No. 1 doubles this season and have won six of their last eight, despite closing the regular season with their first two-match losing skid of 2004-05. The Thompsons are 17-5 on the road this season and 12-3 outdoors. After finishing their rookie campaign – in which they became the first all-freshman doubles team from any Division I school since 1998 to earn a trip to the NCAA doubles tournament – 26th in the rankings, the sisters were #7 in the preseason, and they ascended to the top spot on Feb. 22. The Thompsons – who were the top-ranked 18-and-under girls’ doubles team in the U.S. prior to their arrival at Notre Dame – last year upset the 15th-ranked team of Goulet and Jennifer McGaffigan in three sets in the opening round of the NCAA doubles event, but then lost in three sets against Megan Muth and Amy Wei of William & Mary.
The Thompsons played 11 matches against NCAA qualifiers this season – including six straight last fall – posting a 7-4 record.
The Thompson twins were the only team in the country to reach the semifinals of the first two legs of the collegiate grand slam. They were the runners-up in last October’s Riviera/ITA All-American Championships before falling in the semis of the November ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. The twins will try to complete the grand slam with another strong showing at the NCAAs, which has never seen an Irish team reach the semis (three have lost in the quarterfinals).
The other elite players who earned NCAA invitations in both singles and doubles were Alice Barnes (Stanford), Daniela Bercek (UCLA), Megan Bradley (Miami), Erin Burdette (Stanford), Chloe Carlotti (Mississippi), Kendall Cline (North Carolina), Karin Coetzee (Wake Forest), Audra Cohen (Northwestern), Julie Coin (Clemson), Kim Coventry (Kentucky), Audra Falk (Vanderbilt), Zsuzsanna Fodor (Mississippi State), Sarah Foster (Kentucky), Cristelle Grier (Northwestern), Dianne Hollands (Arizona), Maja Kovacek (New Mexico), Amber Liu (Stanford), Kristi Miller (Georgia Tech), Aniela Mojzis (North Carolina), Mihaela Moldovan (Florida State), Megan Moulton-Levy (William & Mary), Zerene Reyes (Florida), Shadisha Robinson (Georgia), Story Tweedie-Yates (TCU), Anne Yelsey (Stanford), Marianna Yuferova (Virginia Commonwealth), and Riza Zalameda (UCLA).
That group of 28 features 16 players from the ITA’s South Region and seven more from the West Region, while two others – Cohen and Grier – are from the Midwest Region. Fifteen of the players are Americans, while 12 are still in the first half of their collegiate careers. Thompson is one of just eight players to fall into both of those categories, establishing her as one of the top young Americans in the college game. The others in that group are Cohen, Foster, Miller, Moulton-Levy, Robinson, Yelsey, and Zalameda.
Since 1989 (a span of 17 years), Notre Dame competitors have garnered 20 invitations to the national singles tournament and 12 to the doubles event.
The singles championship will begin May 23 with opening-round play and will continue with one round per day. The doubles tournament starts the 24th and also proceeds with one round each day. A full list of all qualifiers can be found on www.ncaasports.com. The Tennis Channel will show the singles final on Saturday, June 4 at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. in South Bend) and the doubles final that same night at 10 p.m. EDT (9 p.m. in South Bend).
The Thompsons will first lead Notre Dame in the NCAA Team Championship, which gets underway May 13. The Irish, ranked 23rd with a 14-9 record after winning the BIG EAST Conference championship, will face #46 Iowa at 10 a.m. (CDT) in the opening round at Northwestern’s Vandy Christie Tennis Center in Evanston, Ill.