April 7, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The eighth-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team picked up its second consecutive win and 11th in the last 13 matches with a 6-0 triumph over No. 41 Southern Methodist Sunday morning at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. With the victory, the Irish improve to 18-5 this season and record their sixth shutout of the year. The Mustangs fall to 13-12 this spring.
“This was a good win for us,” Notre Dame head coach Bob Bayliss said. “They had four starters back from last year’s team (which reached the NCAA semifinals) and I was very apprehensive about this match because we had not been playing well lately. Now, we’ve put together two good solid efforts in a row and we’re starting to build a trend which hopefully will help us in the postseason.”
Senior Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia), the 18th-ranked player in the nation, provided the clinching win for Notre Dame, rallying from one set down to defeat No. 29 Krystian Pfeiffer, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 1 singles. It was Taborga’s ninth victory in 13 matches against a ranked opponent this season, and it came less than 12 hours after the Irish veteran had returned to town following a successful weekend stint with the Bolivian Davis Cup team, in which he won all three of his matches. Sunday’s win over Pfeiffer also lifted Taborga’s record in three-set matches to 8-0 this season and marked the fifth time this year he has erased a one-set deficit to claim victory.
Not to be outdone, sophomore Luis Haddock-Morales (Caguas, P.R.) also sparkled in his return after representing his country in Davis Cup play. The Puerto Rico native got back to South Bend at 1 a.m. (EST) Sunday, but did not seem fazed by the early wake-up call, rolling to 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 5 singles over SMU sophomore Lukasz Senczyszyn. It was Haddock-Morales’ sixth consecutive win and 11th in the 12 matches, although this was his first career win triumph at the No. 5 position.
“I thought it was a pretty big effort from Javier and Luis to do what they did,” Bayliss said. “They came back late last night and did well to adjust to the different surface and temperatures.”
Senior captain Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) returned to the rankings this week at No. 87, and justified his new-found placing with a 6-4, 6-4 win over SMU’s Johan Brunstrom at No. 2 singles. Smith’s victory was the first of three Irish conquests in a span of three minutes, as senior Andrew Laflin (Tampa, Fla.) followed moments later with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Ryan Mauck at the No. 6 flight. It was Laflin’s 12th dual match singles win in 13 tries this spring and improved his overall singles record to 17-1 this year. Haddock-Morales completed the opening flurry with his straight-set win.
Leading 3-0, Notre Dame found itself playing from behind in the remaining three singles matches after SMU claimed the first set in each contest. Taborga was the first to fight his way back, riding an early service break in the third set to oust his seventh top-30 opponent of the season. Sophomore Matthew Scott (Paris, France), who came into the match ranked 79th in the nation, stepped up next and dispatched Mustang junior Alexis Rudzinski, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 4 singles to improve to 20-2 in dual match singles play this season and 14-1 at home. Scott also raised his overall singles record this year to a superb 28-4, including wins in 20 of his last 22 matches.
Senior Aaron Talarico (Laguna Beach, Calif.) completed the shutout with a hard-fought 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory at the No. 3 flight over SMU freshman Gwinyai Chingoka. Talarico earned a critical service break at 4-4 in the third set and parlayed that bonus into his fourth three-set win of the year.
The two teams elected not to play the doubles portion of the match due to SMU’s travel plans.
Notre Dame will play its final home match of the regular season Saturday, April 13, when it welcomes No. 9 Kentucky to the Courtney Tennis Center (weather permitting), with the first serve slated for 1 p.m. (EST). The Irish hold a 12-9-1 edge in the series with UK, including a 4-1 win over the Wildcats last season in Lexington, Ky.
#8 Notre Dame 6, #41 SMU 0
No. 1: *#18 Javier Taborga (ND) d. #29 Krystian Pfeiffer (SMU) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
No. 2: #87 Casey Smith (ND) d. Johan Brunstrom (SMU) 6-4, 6-4
No. 3: Aaron Talarico (ND) d. Gwinyai Chingoka (SMU) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
No. 4: #79 Matthew Scott (ND) d. Alexis Rudzinski (SMU) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
No. 5: Luis Haddock-Morales (ND) d. Lukasz Senczyszyn (SMU) 6-4, 6-2
No. 6: Andrew Laflin (ND) d. Ryan Mauck (SMU) 6-3, 6-4
Order of Finish: 2, 6, 5, 1, 4, 3
Doubles (abandoned due to SMU travel schedule)
No. 1: #4 Smith/Taborga (ND) vs. #13 Brunstrom/Cohn (SMU)
No. 2: James Malhame/Talarico (ND) vs. Chingoka/Rudzinski (SMU)
No. 3: Haddock-Morales/Laflin (ND) vs. Senczyszyn/Mauck (SMU)
Order of Finish: N/A
Team Records: Notre Dame 18-5, SMU 13-12
* denotes clinching match
— ND —