Oct. 6, 2004
Sophomore twins Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.), ranked seventh nationally in doubles, will open play on Thursday afternoon in the 16-team main draw of the Riviera/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Women’s All-American Championships, the first leg of the collegiate grand slam. The Irish duo will play first against the nation’s sixth-ranked team in the first round at the Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
A tough challenge awaits the Thompsons, as at least their first two matches – and possibly more – will be against top-10 teams. In the opening round, they will face a pair of juniors from the University of Alabama, Ashley Bentley and Robin Stephenson. That team, comprised of players ranked #16 (Stephenson) and #49 (Bentley) in singles, is 3-0 this season after going 23-9 in 2003-04, including an 18-5 mark at No. 1. The winner of that contest will move on to Friday’s quarterfinals to play either the national #1 and top-seeded team of Dianne Hollands and Maja Mlakar from the University of Arizona or the 10th-ranked duo of Courtney Bergman and Susanna Lingman of Harvard. The first-round losers will compete in a single-elimination consolation draw, beginning Friday.
The Thompsons, who were the first all-freshman team in Division I since 1998 to earn a berth in the NCAA Doubles Championship last spring, will be making their second appearance in a collegiate grand slam event. In last May’s NCAAs, they reached the round of 16 before falling in three sets. The sisters opened the 2004-05 season at the Colorado Invitational last month with three wins in as many matches, including a triumph over the 24th-ranked pair in the nation.
It will be the first time since 2000 – and sixth time overall – that Notre Dame is represented in the main draw of the All-American Championships. In the first appearance by an Irish duo, then-sophomore Wendy Crabtree teamed with Lisa Tholen to win a pair of matches in advancing to the semifinals of the 1993 event before losing in three sets to the top-seeded team of Keirsten Alley and Pam Nelson of California. In four subsequent appearances, Notre Dame teams have failed to win a match, though in the most recent result, current assistant coach Michelle Dasso and Becky Varnum lost in three sets in the opening round.
The All-American Championships, the Nov. 4-7 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, and the year-end NCAA Championships are college tennis’ three national championship events. The Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships date back to 1983 and the famous Riviera Tennis Club has played host to this event since 1988 (it also hosted an intercollegiate women’s championship from 1986-88).