The Alamo was a skirmish compared to this fight!
As soon as I arrived to the outdoor tennis facility at Rice University in Houston, I had a prime opportunity to get my phone out.
“I told her I had to make sure she wasn’t cheating,” DU women’s head tennis coach Christian Bass told me with a smile as she walked onto the courts, away from her twin sister who would become her chief rival for a few hours.
“She’s double-checking my lineup,” her sibling, Minnesota head coach Catrina Thompson then told me with a smirk.
As the kids say, looks like it’s about to get lit!
I had the unique opportunity while with the team in Houston to witness this sibling rivalry cooked up and done “Pioneer style.”
From a Las Vegas park where they were discovered as children, to the courts at Notre Dame where they were the #1 doubles team in college tennis, to working on the staff together at Yale, Bass and Thompson are used to doing everything as a team.
Until now. This was their first time playing each other as head coaches after Thompson got the UMN job in 2017.
When the racquets went back in the bags, the final score was Pioneers 6, Golden Gophers 1.
“There were some battles on the courts, it was a cool experience,” Coach Thompson (the older sibling by ten minutes) said shortly after play wrapped up.
Before the match, their father Bob Thompson told me from his home in Nevada that his daughters would want to take this match just like any other.
“There’s still that competition between them, they both certainly want to see their team win,” he said.
Thompson said earlier in the week he was considering making the trip to Texas, but ultimately decided to stay home.
“It’s one of those things as parents, you go there and it bothers you to see one that’s gotta take a loss with it and you feel good for the other one that prevails, it’s always a mixed emotion,” he told me when we spoke.
Perhaps him passing on watching his daughters duke it out was for the best.
When I asked the siblings what their father would have said if he was there, they both laughed and Coach Bass jokingly put it this way:
“A lot of constructive criticism for sure.”
In a fitting end to the afternoon, both teams ate together at an area deli recommended by LetsGoDU founder Damien Goddard.
Thank you DG, to call that Reuben I had a “sandwich” would be like calling a big rig a “car.”
Sophomore Camille Verden-Anderson took one look at the melted cheese-covered monstrosity in front of me in shock and could only muster up “What is that?” I said a Reuben and the tall Brit asked what that was (perhaps New York deli staples have not yet made it to England).
Both coaches hope DU and Minnesota will play each other again soon.
After the match wrapped up I asked them if they’ll get back to talking four times a day and Bass without hesitation told me: “absolutely.”