May 23, 2005
ATHENS, Ga. – In her debut match in the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Singles Championship, Notre Dame sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) defeated a fellow Las Vegas native, #46 Sabrina Capannolo of Arizona State, 6-0, 6-2 Monday morning on the McWhorter Courts at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Thompson, ranked 44th, will face #38 Chloe Carlotti of Mississippi on Tuesday at 10 a.m. (EDT) for a spot in the round of 16 and the right to be tabbed an All-American in singles.
The Irish sophomore broke serve in the first game and then had a tough initial service game, but she eventually prevailed after multiple deuces to go up 2-0. From there, she did not look back, going on to win the first eight games of the match before Capannolo finally held to make it 2-1 in the second set. The ASU sophomore held again in the fifth game of the final set, but those would be her only game victories. Thompson ended up holding serve in all seven of her chances, while also breaking in five of Capannolo’s seven service games. It was the first collegiate meeting between the only two Nevada natives in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s national singles rankings. Capannolo graduated from Cambridge Academy in 2003, the same year that Thompson finished her time at Bishop Gorman High School.
Thompson, one of just two players in the country who boasts victories against at least one of the top three seeds in both the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments, has now won five of her last six matches – 10 of 12 since March 22 – and is 24-9 overall this season. She improved to 7-1 in tournament action, as well as 18-5 away from home and 12-9 against nationally-ranked players. She is 19-5 vs. lower-ranked opponents and has now won 25 straight matches when taking the opening set (22-0 in 2004-05), dating back to March of 2004. It was the fifth win over a top-50 opponent for Thompson this spring and the sixth of her career.
Next up will be Carlotti, who pulled an upset of one of the Nos. 9-16 seeds in the opening round, defeating 15th-ranked Mihaela Moldovan of Florida State 6-1, 7-5. That opens up this portion of the draw for an unseeded player to reach the final 16 (and earn All-America honors). The winner of that match would take on the winner of the section of the draw featuring the No. 5 seed, fifth-ranked Jennifer Magley of Florida. She faced #36 Whitney Deason of national-champion Stanford on Monday afternoon in the opening round, with the winner of the match taking on #35 Emma Murphy of San Diego. Thompson has not faced any of those players as a collegian.
Carlotti, who is 23-12 this season, is a senior from Paris, France, who played her first two years of collegiate tennis at Fresno State, being tabbed an All-American in both seasons. This is her fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA singles tournament, with her best result being a round-of-16 finish in 2002. Carlotti has been ranked as high as #5 in the nation (preseason 2003-04) in singles during her career, and she reached the final 16 in this season’s first grand slam, the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, which took place last October. She has never faced a Notre Dame competitor in collegiate competition.
A win Tuesday would clinch All-America honors in both singles and doubles for Thompson. She and her twin sister, Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), assured themselves of doing so in doubles when they earned one of the eight seeds in the NCAA doubles tournament. Only two Irish players have ever been All-Americans in both singles and doubles in the same season, with Wendy Crabtree doing it in 1994 and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso doing so in both 1999 and 2001.
Tuesday will mark the fifth time that a Notre Dame player has been in the round of 32 in both the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments. It was previously done by Crabtree in 1993 and ’95, Jennifer Hall in 1997, and Dasso in 2001.
Thompson was the first Notre Dame player to win a match in the NCAA singles tournament since Dasso reached the semifinals in 2001. That also was the most-recent time that the Irish had someone in the final 32 of the singles draw of any grand slam. Thompson became the first ND player to win in her NCAA Singles Championship debut since Hall did so in 1996, defeating another Sun Devil, Karen Goldstein. Other Irish players who won their first career NCAA singles tournament affair were Melissa Harris (1991), Crabtree (1993), and Holyn Lord (1994).
The victory was the most-lopsided ever for a Notre Dame player in 31 all-time matches in the NCAA singles tournament. That distinction previously belonged to a 6-2, 6-1 triumph by Dasso against Marlene Mejia of North Carolina in the opening round of the 2001 tournament, which began her run to the semis (the best-ever result for ND in the event). It matched the most-lopsided win of the season for Thompson, who downed Barbora Blahutiakova of St. John’s 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship last month. It matched the most-lopsided win by a Notre Dame player against a nationally-ranked foe this season. Freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) knocked off #16 Karin Coetzee of Wake Forest, who won her first-round NCAA match on Monday, by scores of 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles in ND’s 5-2 victory in the Eck Tennis Pavilion on Jan. 30, 2005.
The match was the most-lopsided victory ever for Thompson against a ranked player, but it continued a recent trend of dominating some of the finest players in the nation. Over the past two months, she has now recorded five victories against ranked players in which she has lost four games or fewer: 6-2, 6-2 vs. #93 Katie McGaffigan of Wisconsin on March 29; 6-1, 6-2 vs. #101 Dora Vastag of Indiana on April 10; 6-2, 6-2 vs. #3 Audra Cohen of Northwestern on April 14; 6-1, 6-2 vs. #104 Meg Racette of Iowa on May 13; and Monday against Capannolo.
The eight consecutive game victories were Thompson’s second-best start to a match as a collegian. The only time she won more games in a row at the commencement of a singles contest came on April 3, 2004, when she beat Callan Smith of Marquette 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles in a 7-0 Notre Dame victory in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Monday marked Thompson’s second 6-0 set victory of the season and the sixth of her career. She has now lost two games or fewer in nine of her last 12 sets.
It was just the second career match for Thompson against a player from the Pacific-10 Conference. The previous match saw her lose to #93 Carine Vermeulen of USC at No. 2 singles in a 4-3 Irish exhibition victory on Oct. 17, 2003.
Monday marked the third time Notre Dame and Arizona State players matched up in the NCAA Singles Championship. In the initial meeting, Kori Davidson of ASU, the No. 7 seed in that tournament, eliminated Crabtree 6-3, 6-4 in the second round in 1995. A year later, Hall opened her run to the round of 16 with a 7-5, 6-3 win against Goldstein.
The Thompson twins, ranked sixth and one of the Nos. 5-8 seeds, will get underway in the NCAA Doubles Championship at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday. They will face the 14th-ranked team in the nation, Anastasia Kugakolova of Russia and Zsuzsanna Fodor of Hungary from Mississippi State, in the opening round.
Live scoring and results of all NCAA matches are available on the official website of Georgia athletics, www.georgiadogs.com.
2005 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Singles Championship
First Round (Round of 64)
#44 Catrina Thompson (Notre Dame) def. #46 Sabrina Capannolo (Arizona State) 6-0, 6-2