Sept. 7, 2005
Junior All-America twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) were listed #2 in doubles to lead the Notre Dame contingent represented in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) preseason national singles and doubles rankings, released on Tuesday. Catrina Thompson, at 27th, and sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School), at 54th, both earned career-best rankings in singles, while Buck and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) were 60th in doubles.
Notre Dame is one of just nine schools (along with California, Florida, Georgia, Northwestern, Pepperdine, USC, Stanford, and TCU) to feature both two ranked doubles teams and two of the top 55 players in singles. The Irish have multiple players among the top 55 in the nation for the first time since the first set of spring rankings in 1998-99, when current assistant coach Michelle Dasso was eighth, Becky Varnum was 47th, and Jennifer Hall came in 54th.
The Thompsons finished the 2004-05 season with a 28-7 record and ranked fifth after being the first Irish duo ever to ascend to #1 (on Feb. 22). This is the fourth time they have been ranked second in the nation, following three times last spring. They became the first set of Notre Dame sisters – and first Irish twins, male or female – ever to be All-Americans. The Thompsons were 19-4 in dual-match action and held a sparkling 7-2 record in close matches (8-6, 9-7, or tiebreakers). They excelled against the nation’s best, finishing 15-4 against nationally-ranked teams, 8-2 vs. the top 15, and 4-1 when playing higher-ranked squads. They were the only team to reach the semifinals of both of the first two legs of the collegiate grand slam, and they finished the season with a 6-3 record in grand-slam events, reaching the final 16 in the NCAA Doubles Championship for the second straight year. Only two teams recorded more victories in the main draws of grand slams. Through two collegiate campaigns, the twins are 50-24 (.676) as a team.
Prior to coming to Notre Dame, the Thompsons were the #1-ranked 18-and-under girls’ doubles team in the nation, having won national USTA championships on every surface. They were ranked as high as 573rd in the world in limited professional doubles action and played in the girls’ doubles main draw of the U.S. Open.
Topping the doubles rankings is another team of juniors, Caroline Basu of Germany and Shadisha Robinson, the University of Georgia team that ended last season ranked #1 and with a 25-3 record.
Catrina Thompson is the highest-ranked Irish player since Alicia Salas concluded the 2003-04 campaign at 22nd. She was 24-10 last season, including 17-8 in dual action as the first sophomore to play No. 1 since Dasso did in 1999. Thompson earned an invitation to the NCAA Singles Championship and reached the round of 32 before falling, to end the campaign ranked 46th. She was the BIG EAST Most Outstanding Tournament Performer and the Notre Dame MVP in a season in which she was the team’s most-consistent winner in both singles and doubles. In singles, Thompson went 12-10 against ranked opponents, including 5-5 vs. higher-ranked players. She was one of only two Division I players (along with Robinson) to have a victory over at least one of the top three seeds in both the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments. Thompson also was one of just 13 players to win a round in both events, with just five from that group returning this fall.
Buck had an outstanding rookie season in 2004-05, going 23-12 in singles and finishing 83rd in the national rankings after peaking at 59th. She played No. 2 in dual matches, going 13-9. Buck went 7-6 against nationally-ranked opponents, including upsets of then-#16 Karin Coetzee of Wake Forest and #37 Dora Vastag from Indiana.
Buck also went 27-12 in doubles with current senior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.). That duo was ranked briefly, debuting at 59th in mid-April. She and Tefft, whose hometowns in Oklahoma are less than two hours apart, were doubles partners in junior action. Buck and Tefft won five national USTA doubles titles together and were listed as the top-ranked team in the country in 2002.
Notre Dame, which returns nine of its 10 players from last year’s squad that was 15-10 and finished 24th after winning its sixth BIG EAST championship and reaching the second round of the NCAAs, will open the 2005-06 campaign from Sept. 23-25 in the Maryland Invitational in College Park.