Christian Thompson (File Photo)

No. 6 Seed Notre Dame Survives No. 11 Seed North Carolina, 4-3

May 18, 2007

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ATHENS, Ga. – Notre Dame senior Christian Thompson survived a three-set marathon at No. 2 singles to help the No. 6 seed Irish rally past No. 11 seed North Carolina, 4-3, in round of 16 action from the 2007 NCAA Women’s Tennis Tournament. Notre Dame (28-3) moves into the quartefinals for the second consecutive year and third time in program history. The Irish also broke the previous school record for victories in a single-season.

Notre Dame will face No. 3 seed Georgia Tech on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. inside Henry Feild Stadium. The Yellow Jackets knocked off the Irish, 4-2, earlier this season at the National Team Indoor Championship final.

With the match, 3-3, Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, NV) led #45 Katrina Tsang 5-2 in the third and deciding set. Thompson actually led 5-1 before Tsang held serve to draw within 5-2. Thompson served for the match and team victory, but Tsang broke to narrow the deficit to 5-3. Tsang really made it interesting after holding serve to draw within, 5-4, but Thompson was finally able to put Tsang away for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Thompson, who actually held leads of 5-2, 5-1 and 5-1 in each of the three sets, improves to 19-14 overall and 16-10 in dual matches. Tsang drops to 32-10 overall and 18-8 in dual action.

Trailing 3-2, Notre Dame’s season rested on the back of junior Brook Buck (Yukon, OK) before it could even get to Thompson.

Buck, who raced out to a 5-1 lead and 6-3 victory in the opening set over Sanaz Marand, dropped the second set, 6-3, and trailed in the third and deciding set, 3-0. But, Buck narrowed the gap to 3-1 and broke Marand making the score 3-2. After the two traded service points, Marand broke to grab a 5-3 advantage and served for the match, but Buck broke Marand’s service and held to square the match, 5-5. Buck then broke Marand for the second straight time and served for the match leading 6-5. After the two each exchanged advantages in duece, Buck sealed the point when Marand’s return of service went into the net.

Buck improves to 16-5 overall and 13-1 in dual matches, including 11-1 at No. 6. She also extended her career-best winning streak to a team-best 12 matches. Marand drops to 39-9 overall and 25-5 in dual action.

Trailing 1-0 entering the singles portion of the match, Notre Dame quickly evened the match, 1-1, following freshman #69 Cosmina Ciobanu’s (Brea, CA) straight-set, 6-4, 6-3, victory over #102 Austin Smith. Ciobanu struggled out of the gate, trailing 4-2 in the opening set before winning the final four games, including a pair of service breaks. Ciobanu rode the momentum in the second set, grabbing an early 4-1 advantage and never looked back. She improves to 35-5 overall and 25-1 in dual matches. Ciobanu not only set a new single-season school record for dual match victories with 25, but also broke the previous record for combined dual match wins with 47 (25 in singles and 22 in doubles). Smith drops to 31-14 overall and 18-11 in duals.

The Tar Heels regained the lead, 2-1, after Sara Anundsen picked up a 6-2, 6-4, straight-set win over sophomore Kelcy Tefft (Enid, OK) at No. 4. Anundsen improves to 20-13 overall and 19-8 in dual action, while Tefft drops to 26-8 and 21-5.

The Irish drew even, 2-2, with their second straight-set victory of the match. Freshman Colleen Rielley (Overland Park, KS) upended Caitlin Collins, 6-4, 7-6 (3), at No. 3 singles. Rielley squandered a 4-1 lead in the opening set, but held serve to take a 5-4 advantage and broke Collins to secure the 6-4 win. Rielley then served for the match at 6-5, but Collins managed to break to set up the tie-breaker where Rielley dominated. She improves to 30-10 overall and 19-7 in dual action with her 11th consecutive victory. Rielley, who now stands 16-1 at No. 3, also upped her record to 9-3 in tie-breakers. Collins drops to 18-18 and 14-13.

The Tar Heels put Notre Dame on the brink of elimination at No. 1 singles. In a battle between two of the top players in all off college tennis, #10 Jenna Long held off #30 senior Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, NV), 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Thompson took an entertaining first set after breaking Long at 6-5, but Long returned the favor in the second set, breaking Thompson at 5-4. The third and deciding set remained on serve until 4-4 when Long broke Thomspson at grab a 5-4 lead. Long then held serve for the three-set victory. Thompson drops to 26-11 overall and 21-8 in dual action, while Long improves to 35-9 and 22-6.

North Carolina was the definite aggressor in doubles action and the Tar Heels came away with the all-important doubles point. The Tar Heels, who captured the doubles point in the regular season matchup with the Irish, opened action with a victory at No. 2 doubles.

The 29th-ranked tandem of Collins and Marand from Notre Carolina took down Notre Dame’s 22nd-ranked duo of Buck and Tefft, 8-3. The Irish grabbed an early 2-1 lead, before the Tar Heels squared the match at 2-2. Collins and Marand picked up the first service break of match, taking a 3-2 advantage and for all intents and purposes never looked back. They held serve to push their lead to 4-2, before breaking Buck and Tefft again to grab a 5-2 lead and cruised to the victory. Buck and Tefft drop to 25-6 overall and 17-3 in dual matches. The defeat is the first for the duo since March 2 — a span of eight consecutive victories.

Notre Dame found equal trouble at No. 3 doubles. Ciobanu and freshman Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, KS) found themselves into an early hole, 3-1, to Smith and Meg Fanjoy. Ciobanu and Krisik managed to re-gain the service break they lost earlier in the match and drew within, 5-4, but Smith and Fanjoy held serve before picking up their second service break of the match to grab a 7-4 advantage. Ciobanu and Krisik were unable to break serve and dropped the match, 8-4, snapping their six-match winning streak. They fall to 22-6 overall and 16-5 in dual action.

The 12th-ranked Thompson twins were trailing their match against second-ranked Long and Anundsen, 6-4, at No. 1 when the match was abandoned.