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Casey Smith Splits Singles Matches At ITA All-American Championships

Oct. 11, 2001

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – Senior Irish captain Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) won his first round match Thursday before being eliminated in the second round of the singles main draw at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships at the Lincoln Tennis Center. Smith and classmate Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia) lost 8-6 in the first round to the top-seeded pair in the 32-team doubles main draw. Smith and Taborga will play as many as two matches in the consolation bracket on Friday at the premier hardcourt event of the fall collegiate season. The Notre Dame pair is slated to take on the loser of the first-round matchup between Purdue’s Scott Mayer and Dan Swan and Florida’s Olivier Levant and Eleazar Magallan.

In his first match of the day, 38th-ranked Smith defeated Calle Hansen of Pepperdine 6-2, 6-4. The match ended a successful run through qualifying and pre-qualifying for Hansen, who won seven matches in six days just to reach the main draw. In his final qualifying match, Hansen knocked off Georgia Tech’s David Wright 6-3, 6-2. Wright eliminated Irish senior Aaron Talarico (Laguna Beach, Calif.) 7-5, 6-0 on Tuesday in the first round of singles qualifying.

After having a set point with a 5-4 lead in the opening set, Smith dropped nine straight games to lose his second round singles match Thursday afternoon 7-5, 6-0 to South Alabama’s Kosta Zinchanka. Zinchanka, ranked 91st nationally, won two qualifying matches to reach the main draw, where he upset fifth-seeded and seventh-ranked Jean-Julien Rojer of UCLA 6-2, 6-2 in the first round Thursday morning.

Smith and Taborga, who won two qualifying matches earlier this week to gain entry into the doubles main draw, lost their opening-round match 8-6 to Scott Lipsky and David Martin of Stanford, the second-ranked doubles team in the country and the top seed in the tournament. The Irish pair were hurt by the experimental “Collegiate Game Scoring” system being used in all ITA-sanctioned events this fall. In the format, a game point ensues on the second deuce of a game. Smith and Taborga, ranked 34th in the nation, suffered two breaks of serve and, in all, lost three of four of those game points on Thursday. Lipsky and Martin eliminated Taborga and Talarico in the first round of last season’s NCAA Championships 6-4, 6-0 on their way to the national semifinals.

Players slated to face Notre Dame in dual-match play this season are having success in the singles draw at the All-American Championships. Four have advanced to the round of 16, including top-seeded Phil King of Duke, an NCAA quarterfinalist and ITA National Rookie of the Year last season. The Irish will face King and the Blue Devils in Durham, N.C. on January 29. Also in the round of 16 are Illinois’ Philip Stolt and Amer Delic (March 7, Notre Dame at Illinois) and Kentucky’s Jesse Witten (April 13, Kentucky at Notre Dame).

The ITA All-American Championships, the Nov. 8-11 Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, and the year-end NCAA Championships are college tennis’ three national championship events during the season. From 1986 until last year there were four national events, but the ITA National Clay Court Championships is no longer played.

The ITA Men’s All-American Championships date back to 1979 and will take place for the second straight year at the Lincoln Tennis Center at Stone Mountain. Recent champions include up-and-coming professionals Bob Bryan of Stanford and James Blake of Harvard. SMU’s Genius Chidzikwe and Florida’s Olivier Levant and Nathan Overholser won last year’s singles and doubles titles, respectively.