Nov. 4, 2004
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Sophomore twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), the seventh-ranked doubles team in college tennis and the tournament’s No. 2 seed, opened play in the second leg of the collegiate grand slam, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, on Thursday with a victory against the #3 team in the nation. The Irish duo, which was the runner-up at the first grand slam event of the 2004-05 season, is just the second in school history to win a match in the tournament and will play in the quarterfinals on Friday.
The Thompsons defeated the team of senior Aibika Kalsarieva and sophomore Sarah Foster of Kentucky by a score of 8-5 in the first round. The Wildcats won the first two games and were on the verge of taking a 3-0 lead before the sisters fought back and won the third game. The match was then tied at 4-4 when the Thompsons took control by winning three consecutive games.
“The Thompsons struck a good balance today,” said Irish assistant coach Michelle Dasso, who accompanied the Thompsons to the National Indoor Championships, while the rest of the team heads to the Indiana Invitational this weekend. “Going into the match, we knew they would need to get balls in and be able to end points, and they is what they did. Christian was very consistent, and she played as well as she has all fall. Catrina was her normal aggressive self, and she was effective at finishing points.”
The Wildcat team, which won the title at the ITA Southeast Championships last month, had been 8-1 this fall heading into the match. Kalsarieva, a native of the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan who transferred to Kentucky last season after playing NAIA tennis at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho, is currently ranked ninth in the nation in singles. Both she and Foster, ranked 32nd, are also in the singles draw at the National Indoors. The Wildcat team was 24-11 last season en route to gaining an invitation to the NCAA Doubles Championship.
The Thompson twins move into the quarterfinals, where they will take on the 28th-ranked duo of Megan Bradley and Audrey Banada from former BIG EAST-rival Miami. Last season, the Thompsons split a pair of matches with Bradley, who was playing with Melissa Applebaum.
The Thompsons are now 5-0 against nationally-ranked opponents this season, including victories against foes ranked #1, #3, #6, #11, and #24. Overall, the sisters are 7-1, with the lone loss coming against Florida freshmen Whitney Benik and Lolita Frangulyan of Florida in the title match of the ITA All-American Championships. That Gator pair, seeded No. 1 in this event, was upset in the opening round, leaving the Thompsons as the highest remaining seed.
The victory made the Thompsons just the second Irish doubles team ever to win a match in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. During her playing days, Dasso paired with Becky Varnum to advance to the semifinals of the 2000-01 event before losing to the top-seeded duo.
Based largely on their runner-up performance at the ITA All-American Championships, the Thompsons are the No. 2 seed in the elite 16-team draw. It marks the highest an Irish doubles team has ever been seeded in any collegiate grand slam event.
The Thompsons, who came to Notre Dame in 2003 as the top-ranked girls’ 18-and-under doubles team in the United States, improved to 17-7 collegiately in open tournaments and are now 10-9 against ranked teams. Over their last 14 matches, they have six victories against top-15 foes. They are now 15-7 as collegians in indoor action and 29-18 overall.
Live play-by-play of the final two rounds of the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships will be available at www.RadioTennis.com.
The ITA All-American Championships, the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, and the year-end NCAA Championships are college tennis’ three national championship events. The other leg of the collegiate grand slam, the T. Rowe Price National Clay Court Championships, was discontinued prior to the 2001-02 season. The National Indoor Championships feature the smallest fields of any, with just 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams earning invitations.
ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships
 #7 Catrina Thompson/Christian Thompson (Notre Dame) def. #3 Sarah Foster/Aibika Kalsarieva (Kentucky) 8-5