April 29, 2005
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) became the first Irish player in four years to be named the BIG EAST Women’s Tennis Most Outstanding Tournament Performer, headlining an impressive group of Notre Dame student-athletes mentioned on the league’s all-tournament teams, released on Thursday. The Irish took up four of the six spots on the all-tournament team in singles, as well as two of three in doubles.
Thompson, her twin sister Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), and freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) all earned BIG EAST accolades in both singles and doubles. Senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) was a singles selection and her sister, junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.), garnered doubles honors.
Catrina Thompson is the third Irish player to win the BIG EAST’s highest individual award, joining Jennifer Hall (1996) and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso (2000 and ’01). She was the only player to emerge victorious in singles in both the semifinals and final. Initially, Thompson – ranked 37th in the nation – topped Barbora Blahutiakova of St. John’s 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 before defeating Syracuse’s Victoria Vaynberg 6-3, 6-1 in the title match. She improved to 22-8 this season in singles, including 16-7 in dual-match play in her first season at No. 1. Thompson is the first sophomore to fill the top spot for the Irish since Dasso did so in 1999.
In doubles, the Thompson twins gained all-league accolades for the second consecutive season. The #5-ranked team in the country first defeated Allison Davidson and Hande Gorur 8-4 in the final match on court to clinch the doubles point in the semis. In the final, the sisters again provided the clinching victory, topping Vaynberg and Catherine Zawadzki 8-3 at No. 1. The Thompsons are 25-6 on the season, including 17-4 in dual play at No. 1. They are 13-3 vs. nationally-ranked squads and 8-1 in their careers against BIG EAST foes.
Christian Thompson sat out the singles portion of the semifinals due to a nagging knee injury, but then came back in the final to beat Ashley Lipton of Syracuse 6-1, 6-3 at No. 3. It was the second consecutive year that she was named an all-tournament selection in singles.
Buck, who is now ranked 93rd in singles, clinched Notre Dame’s semifinal triumph, topping Kristina Bothova of St. John’s 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2. She was leading 6-3, 3-5, in her match with Zawadzki in the final when Catrina Thompson clinched the victory for the Irish. Buck is 23-12 on the season, including 13-9 in dual action at No. 2.
Buck and Lauren Connelly, who entered the BIG EAST tournament having just earned their first national ranking together (59th), were victorious 8-2 in the title match against Katie Bramante and Wei-Ming Leong at No. 2. They are 26-11 together this season, with a 15-8 mark this spring in dual matches at No. 2. Connelly also was named an all-tournament performer in doubles in 2003.
Sarah Jane Connelly was an all-tournament singles selection for the second time, after being part of the inaugural team, in 2003. She provided a 6-3, 6-1 win against Syracuse’s Pearly Leung at No. 6 in the title match and was just a single game from a victory at No. 5 against Davidson in the semifinals, holding a 6-3, 6-5 advantage when Buck clinched the win.
This was just the third year that the BIG EAST Conference named an all-tournament team. The other singles honorees were Vaynberg and Bramante of Syracuse, while the Boston College team of Nida Waseem and Gia Nafarette was the other doubles pair to earn mention. Mac Gifford of the Orange was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year.
Notre Dame will next take part in the NCAA Championship, which begins May 13-15 at campus sites. The full 64-team field will be announced on Wednesday, May 4, at approximately 4:30 p.m. (EDT) on ESPNews.