Nov. 2, 2005
ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Tennis ChampionshipsColumbus, Ohio â€¢ The Racquet Club of Columbus â€¢ The Ohio State UniversityNovember 3-6
Midwest Blast VIIUrbana, Illinois â€¢ Atkins Tennis Center â€¢ University of IllinoisNovember 4-6
THOMPSONS LOOK FOR ANOTHER GRAND SLAM TITLE THIS WEEKEND WHILE REST OF IRISH HEAD TO MIDWEST BLAST VII: Junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) — who beat three top-10 teams en route to claiming the doubles title in the season’s first grand slam, the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships — will try to become the first women’s doubles team ever to win both of the first two grand slams of a season, as they travel to the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Tennis Championships, set for Thursday-Sunday at the Racquet Club of Columbus in Columbus, Ohio. The Thompsons are the top-seeded team in the event, marking the first No. 1 seeding in a grand slam in Irish history. Catrina Thompson also will compete in singles. The rest of the Notre Dame women’s tennis team will head to Urbana, Ill., for Midwest Blast VII, which will run from Friday through Sunday at the University of Illinosi’ Atkins Tennis Center.
MIDWEST BLAST FORMAT & SCHEDULE: The Midwest Blast take place Friday-Saturday at the Atkins Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Illinois. Four teams will be participating: Illinois, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin. The tournament will feature hidden dual action, where teams play simulated dual matches, but no team scores are recorded. All matches count for individual records and rankings purposes. Notre Dame is slated to play doubles against Louisville on Friday at 9 a.m. (CST), followed by singles against Illinois at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the Irish will face Wisconsin in doubles at 9:30 a.m. and Louisville in singles at 10:30 a.m. Sunday will feature doubles vs. the Illini at 9 a.m. and singles against Wisconsin at 11:30 a.m.
ND IN THE MIDWEST BLAST: This will be the second time that Notre Dame competes in the Midwest Blast, after also doing so in 2003. In hidden dual action, the Irish went 12-9 in singles and 4-5 in doubles against players from Illinois, Miami, and Virginia.
RANKED PLAYERS IN THE MIDWEST BLAST: The Midwest Blast will feature two nationally-ranked singles players and a ranked team in doubles. In singles, Wisconsin’s Caitlin Burke is 32nd, while Irish sophomore Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) stands 54th. Buck and freshman Kelcy Tefft (Enid, Okla./Chisholm H.S.) are 60th in doubles.
ITA NATIONAL INTERCOLLEGIATE INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS FORMAT & HISTORY: The ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships feature a 32-player singles field and 16-team doubles field for men and women, including: qualifiers from ITA Regional Championships held across the country during October, the ITA National Small College champions, the winners of the Polo Ralph Lauren All-American Tennis Championships and Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships and at-large and wild card selections made by the ITA National Tournament Committee. Overall, more than 10,000 players from nearly 600 schools participate annually in the Wilson/ITA Regional and National Intercollegiate Championships. This event was inaugurated in 1978 for the men and 1984 for the women and recent champions and finalists include current and recent top 100 professionals James Blake (Harvard), Laura Granville (Stanford), Marissa Irvin (Stanford), Jeff Morrison (Florida) and Lisa Raymond (Florida). Big Ten legends and Grand Slam finalists Todd Martin (Northwestern) and MaliVai Washington (Michigan) are also among the past champions. 2005 marks the 15th anniversary of Martin’s championship run. Big Ten players have reached the men’s singles final at this event each of the past four years (winning three titles). Last year, Miami’s Megan Bradley beat Susie Babos of California 6-2, 6-2 in the singles final, while Cristelle Grier and Audra Cohen from Northwestern prevailed 8-2 against Stanford’s Alice Barnes and Erin Burdette in the doubles final. Grier also won the `03 title with Jessica Rush. The doubles draw will have one round each day, but the round of 16 and quarterfinals of the singles will both be played on Friday.
TOP SEEDS: Junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) are the top-seeded team in the doubles bracket, due largely to winning the title in last month’s ITA/Riviera ITA All-American Championships and having posted a 5-0 overall record thus far this season. It is the first-ever No. 1 seed in a grand slam for Notre Dame women’s tennis. The Thompsons were the No. 2 seed in the event a year ago, and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso was the No. 2 seed in the 1999 T. Rowe Price National Clay Court Championships.
IRISH DRAWS: The top-seeded Thompson twins will open play on Thursday by taking on the team of Kim Coventry and Joelle Schwenk of Kentucky. The Wildcats are ninth in the preseason national rankings, but hold just a 7-6 record (2-3 vs. ranked teams) this fall after losing in the final of the Wilson/ITA Southeast Championships. Catrina Thompson, ranked 27th nationally in singles, will challenge the No. 5 seed in the singles draw in opening-round action. She will face Robin Stephenson of Alabama, who was listed fourth in the preseason rankings.
ND IN THE ITA NATIONAL INTERCOLLEGIATE INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS: Notre Dame will be represented in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships for the 12th time in the last 15 years. Among the top performances in doubles were current juniors Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) reaching the title match last year, and Becky Varnum and current assistant coach Michelle Dasso advancing to the semis in 2001. In singles, Dasso was a semifinalist in `01, as was Jennifer Hall in 1996, while Wendy Crabtree (1994) and Hall (`98) both reached the quarterfinals. ND had never had a seeded doubles team prior to last year, when the Thompsons were the No. 2 seed. Only one Irish player — Melissa Harris in 1992 (No. 5) — has ever been seeded in singles. See box on this page for complete results of the Irish in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
IRISH HEAD COACH: Jay Louderback is in his 17th season at Notre Dame with a 283-147 (.659) record and his 26th year as a collegiate coach with a 487-325 (.600) mark. He ranks fifth among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories. Louderback’s Irish have finished in the national top 30 in each of the last 13 seasons and have won 12 conference titles. Since the preseason of the 1992-93 season, Louderback’s teams have been in the national top 30 in 202 of 204 sets of ITA rankings. After taking over a program looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance, Louderback has helped Notre Dame to the NCAAs 12 times in the last 13 years (which only 10 other schools have done), including five appearances in the round of 16 and a 1996 quarterfinal finish. Louderback, a four-time Midwest Region coach of the year, has been honored as his conference’s top coach on eight occasions, including five times in 10 years in the BIG EAST. In his time at Notre Dame, Louderback’s players have earned All-America honors 15 times, won four national ITA awards, and earned 20 invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship and 12 to the NCAA doubles tournament. His players have dominated the University awards during Louderback’s tenure, leading all sports in both Byron V. Kanaley awards (six) and Francis Patrick O’Connor awards (six). His family was honored with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tennis Family of the Year Award for 2002. The Arkansas City, Kan., native, and 1976 graduate of Wichita State arrived at Notre Dame prior to the 1989-90 season after coaching for seven years at his alma mater and three years (men and women) at Iowa State.
TWO SINGLES PLAYERS, A PAIR OF DOUBLES TEAMS EARN PRESEASON NATIONAL RANKINGS: 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 earlier this month. 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.) — formerly the #1-ranked doubles team in juniors action — 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, who became the first ND team ever to be ranked #1 last spring, are behind only 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.
IRISH TO FACE SEVEN TOP-25 TEAMS: Nine teams that finished the 2004-05 campaign in the top 20 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings – including seven that reached the final 16 of the NCAA Championship – will highlight the 2005-06 schedule. In all, 19 of the 23 teams on Notre Dame’s schedule ended last year ranked among the top 55 in the nation, while 16 earned bids to the NCAAs. Among the top challenges on the Irish slate will be matches with USC (finished 7th, NCAA quarterfinals, Oct. 14, home, exhibition), Wake Forest (26th, second round, Feb. 11, away), North Carolina (11th, quarterfinals, Feb. 12, away), Tennessee (18th, second round, Feb. 18, home), Harvard (16th, round of 16, Feb. 19, home), Brigham Young (22nd, second round, Feb. 25, home), Duke (17th, second round, March 15, Orlando, Fla.), Texas (3rd, NCAA runner-up, March 20, away), Vanderbilt (8th, round of 16, March 29, away), Northwestern (5th, round of 16, April 5, home), and Tulane (15th, round of 16, April 15, away).
WE ARE FAMILY: Notre Dame women’s tennis has long featured members of the same family on its teams. For the fourth consecutive season, Notre Dame will have a set of sisters on its roster: junior twins Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.). They last year became the first set of Irish sisters — and first twins of either sex — to both become All-Americans. The previous three seasons had featured two pairs of sisters on each Irish roster, but that has changed with the graduation of Maggie Donohue in 2003 and Sarah Jane Connelly last spring. Another family connection was added last season, as head coach Jay Louderback’s daughter, Bailey Louderback (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.), joined the team. He became the 11th Notre Dame coach — just the second in a women’s sport (along with softball’s Brian Boulac) — to have coached his son or daughter with the Irish.
CHANGES TO THE ITA RANKINGS: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) recently announced some changes to its national rankings for the 2005-06 season: (1) It will use one set of points for wins and also a tighter set of points, with less gaps. This set of points will be the same set that has been used for the season’s first computer rankings in the past; (2) There will be bonus points awarded for road wins; (3) The rankings that are run at the time of NCAA Championship selections will be run twice and the second run of the rankings will be the published ranking; (4) There will be expanded, unpublished rankings (and values for opponents): 76-125 for team, 126-175 for singles, and 61-90 for doubles; (5) The first computer rankings (for team) will take place 2 weeks earlier on March 8; (6) The singles and doubles rankings from Fall results will go back to being a computer ranking; it had been done by committee vote the past three years.
KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME TENNIS: For the fastest results of Notre Dame tennis matches, call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #8. The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the game recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com. The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame tennis match. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Bo Rottenborn at Rottenborn.email@example.com, who also can provide any information about the Irish tennis program.