Oct. 23, 2004
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Sophomore Catrina Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) and freshman Brook Buck (Yukon, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School) won a pair of matches to reach the round of 16 in singles action, while Buck and junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) won again to advance to the doubles quarterfinals in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Championships Saturday at the Varsity Tennis Center. Buck is one of only three rookies still remaining in the singles draw and one of just eight players alive in both singles and doubles.
Thompson, ranked 103rd nationally in doubles, defeated Hungarian Beatrix Csordas of DePaul 7-6, 6-3 in the first round before downing Indiana’s Laura McGaffigan 6-2, 6-2. She is 5-0 this season and 23-3 in her career when winning the first set. Thompson also now holds a 15-6 career mark in indoor matches in collegiate play. She will take on Iowa’s Megan Racette, ranked 79th, in Sunday’s third round.
Buck continued her impressive first collegiate semester, initially beating Michigan State’s Pascale Schnitzer 6-1, 6-1 before topping Valerie Vladea of Northwestern 6-2, 6-1. The latter player has been ranked as high as 79th in the nation in singles and played No. 2 for Minnesota in 2003 before enrolling in graduate school at Northwestern. Buck now stands 7-2 this season, and she will take on the #1 player in collegiate tennis, Northwestern’s Cristelle Grier, on Sunday in the round of 16.
Only four schools have multiple players in the final 16 of the singles draw, as the Irish are joined by Northwestern, Iowa, and Michigan.
Buck and Connelly upset one of the tournament’s No. 5-8 seeds in the round of 16 in doubles action, upending Caitlin Burke and Chelsea Nusslock of Wisconsin by an 8-2 score. The win moved the Irish duo’s record this fall to 9-1, and they have lost two games or fewer on six occasions. Buck and Connelly will next take on the eighth-ranked team in college tennis, Michigan’s Michelle DaCosta and Kara Delicata, who are the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
Two other Notre Dame players – senior captain Sarah Jane Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) and junior Kristina Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./St. Joseph’s Academy) – won first-round contests before falling against top players in their second match. Connelly lost just two games in beating Brianna Knue 6-0, 6-2, but then lost by the same score against #37 Dora Vastag of Indiana. It was the Notre Dame captain’s first defeat in nine matches this season.
Stastny beat Caitlin O’Keefe of Ohio State 6-2, 6-2 in the first round before losing 6-3, 6-1 against Northwestern’s Audra Cohen, who is the best player in college tennis right now. The Wildcat freshman stands 17-0 on the season, with five wins against top-five opponents and the singles championship of the first collegiate grand slam tournament, the ITA All-American Championships, to her credit. The win against O’Keefe was impressive since the two players hooked up last week, and Stastny had to rally from losing the opening set for a match-tiebreaker triumph.
Junior Lauren Connelly (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness H.S.) fell in the opening round against Illinois’ Momei Qu by scores of 6-3, 6-3. It was the first loss for Connelly in eight matches this fall.
Sophomore Christian Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman H.S.) suffered a tough opening-round defeat, falling 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 against Bulgarian Marina Parashkevova of DePaul.
Notre Dame’s other doubles team playing on Saturday, the elder Connelly and Stastny, lost 8-5 to the Northwestern duo of Vladea and Alexis Prousis.
Notre Dame’s success is accentuated by the fact that its top doubles team, the Thompson twins, is not taking part in the tournament, as they have already secured a berth in the 16-team main draw of the second leg of the collegiate grand slam, the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, to which the Midwest Championships victor gains entrance. The Thompsons, ranked seventh in the nation, earned their spot by reaching the final of the first collegiate grand slam event of the season, the ITA All-American Championships.
The ITA Midwest Championships is an indoor singles and doubles tournament for the top players in the Midwest Region – which consists of every Big Ten Conference team but Penn State, as well as other area schools. It is one of eight regional tournaments taking place across the country this month. The event consists of main draws of 64 in both singles and doubles, with eight spots in singles reserved for winners of a 64-player qualifying bracket. The singles finalists and doubles champions earn automatic entry into the second leg of the collegiate grand slam, the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, slated for Nov. 4-7 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
ITA Midwest Championships
Singles – First Round
Marina Parashkevova (DePaul) def. Christian Thompson (Notre Dame) 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4
#103 Catrina Thompson (ND) def. Beatrix Csordas (DePaul) 7-6, 6-3
Momei Qu (Illinois) def. Lauren Connelly (ND) 6-3, 6-3
Kristina Stastny (ND) def. Caitlin O’Keefe (Ohio State) 6-2, 6-2
Sarah Jane Connelly (ND) def. Brianna Knue (Illinois) 6-0, 6-2
Brook Buck (ND) def. Pascale Schnitzer (Michigan State) 6-1, 6-1
Singles – First Round
#103 Catrina Thompson (ND) def. Laura McGaffigan (Indiana) 6-2, 6-2
Buck (ND) def. Valerie Vladea (Northwestern) 6-2, 6-1
#37 Dora Vastag (Indiana) def. S.J. Connelly (ND) 6-0, 6-2
 Audra Cohen (Northwestern) def. Stastny (ND) 6-3, 6-1
Doubles – Round of 16
Alexis Prousis/Valerie Vladea (Northwestern) def. S.J. Connelly/Stastny (ND) 8-5
Buck/L. Connelly (ND) def. [5-8] Caitlin Burke/Chelsea Nusslock (Wisconsin) 8-2
Note: Seedings are in brackets preceding national rankings, which precede names.