May 22, 2002
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Notre Dame senior All-American Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia), ranked 15th nationally in singles, lost 6-4, 6-3 to 22nd-ranked Marcin Matkowski of UCLA Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championship at the Texas A&M Tennis Center.
Taborga’s season is not quite over, though, as he and classmate Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.), ranked fifth nationally, will open play in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Doubles Championship Thursday at 1:00 p.m. against Rice’s Mathias Mathaes and Prakash Venkataraman. Live scoring of all matches throughout the tournament will be available at www.und.com.
The first set featured strong serving from both players with the Szcezin, Poland native breaking serve only in the last game of the set. Serving at 4-5, Taborga for the first time struggled on his service game, losing four straight points and the set to Matkowski. The Bruin finished the set by winning eight consecutive points and converted on the only break-point opportunity for either player on set point.
More of the same followed in the second set. On serve and serving at 2-3, Taborga saved a pair of break points and fought through six deuces to finally convert on his sixth game point to tie the set at 3-3. Though denied a service break, Matkowski responded by holding his serve at love, easily breaking the Irish player in the following game and then serving out the match. Similar to the first set, Matkowski won 12 of the final 14 points in the match.
Taborga finished the season at 28-12 overall and remains the only player in the country to have notched victories over the nation’s No. 1 singles player and No. 1 doubles team. He posted a 77-41 (.653) singles mark over his career, which places him tied for 13th among players in the Bob Bayliss era. He was ranked as high as 11th in the nation this season, becoming just the third Notre Dame player to be ranked that high.
Matkowski served extremely well, holding serve on all 10 opportunities and not facing a break point in the match. He improved to 33-11 this season and 3-1 against top-20 players. He advanced to Thursday’s second round, in which he will take on #26 Oliver Maiberger of San Diego State. A win would garner Matkowski All-America honors in singles after he already earned them in doubles as part of the top-ranked doubles team in the nation. The Bruin sophomore had an impressive fall season, winning the singles title at the Omni Hotels Region VIII Championship, vaulting him to a career-high No. 13 listing.
Taborga, who was one of eight players awarded No. 9-16 seeds, was one of five seeds to fall in the opening round of the tournament. Also losing on day one were second-seeded Peter Handoyo of Tennessee and seventh-seeded Romain Ambert of Mississippi State, as well as No. 9-16 seeds Daniel Klemetz of Middle Tennessee State and Jean Simon of Texas.
The loss for Taborga marked the third straight first-round exit for an Irish player in the NCAA Singles Championship. Notre Dame was not represented in the tournament last season, while Ryan Sachire fell in his opening match in both 2000 and 1999. Sachire, who advanced to the third round in 1998, was the last Notre Dame player to win a match in the NCAA singles tournament.