March 15, 2002
Montgomery, Ala. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team, ranked fourth in the nation, advanced to the semifinals with a 4-1 victory over Alabama-Birmingham at the 2002 Blue-Gray National Classic. Notre Dame, who won the Blue-Gray title in 2001, improves to 14-3 this season, while Alabama-Birmingham falls to 9-3. Notre Dame now plays Harvard, who upset No. 25 Indiana State 4-1 in its quarterfinal match, on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.
The Irish, playing outdoors for the first time this season, had to rally after losing the doubles point. Notre Dame’s number-one doubles team of Casey Smith and Javier Taborga, ranked fifth in the nation, lost to Tobias Klein and Alex Jung 9-8 (8-6 in the tie break). Taborga and Smith had a number of match points, but could not convert the final point. It was only the second defeat in the last 11 matches for the duo. The No. 2 doubles team of Notre Dame’s James Malhame and Ashok Raju lost to Andrew Vandermerye and George Durbrana 8-2. Notre Dame’s third doubles team of Aaron Talarico and Brent D’Amico was leading 7-6 in its match when play was halted once the Blazers clinched the doubles point.
Taborga, ranked 20th in the nation in singles, rebounded from his doubles loss and improved to 13-1 at the No. 1 position by defeating Vandermerye 6-4, 7-6. Taborga has now won both his singles matches this weekend at the Blue-Gray Classic.
At the No. 3 position, Talarico won his second match of the tournament defeating Jung in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Irish sophomore Luis Haddock-Morales gave Notre Dame its third singles victory, cruising past Banzarus Zamen 6-3, 6-2.
Notre Dame then clinched the match when Matt Scott, ranked 53rd in the nation, prevailed in a hard-fought three-set victory over Ruben Zrinen 6-3, 3-6, 6-0. Scott’s victory was crucial as the final two singles matches were in third sets with UAB up in one match and Notre Dame barely ahead in the other.
With Scott’s win, the No 2 singles match between Smith and Klein was abandoned with Smith leading 5-4 in the third and deciding set. Andrew Laflin’s 15-match winning streak was also preserved with Scott’s victory as the Irish senior was trailing Dubrana 6-3, 3-6, 3-5 when the match was abandoned.
“I was proud of the effort we put forth after we lost the doubles point,” head coach Bob Bayliss said. “We did fight hard and learned to win today with not our best game.”
Note: The Irish are playing in their 10th Blue-Gray National Classic in 2002, having good success in this tournament in the past. The Irish have won the tournament twice (1993 and 2001) and have an overall record of 18-11 in Montgomery, including a 15-5 record the past six years.
#4 Notre Dame 4, Alabama-Birmingham 1
(Notre Dame players listed first)
#20 Javier Taborga def. Andrew Vandermerye 6-4, 7-6Casey Smith led Tobias Klein 7-6, 4-6, 5-4 (abandoned)#121 Aaron Talarico def. Alex Jung 7-5, 6-4Luis Haddock-Morales def. Banzarus Zaman 6-3, 6-2#53 Matt Scott def. Ruben Zrinen 6-3, 3-6, 6-0Andrew Laflin trailed George Dubrana 6-3, 3-6, 3-5
Doubles:#5 Smith/Taborga lost to Klein/Jung 9-8 (6)James Malhame/Ashok Raju lost toVandermerye/Dubrana 8-2Talarico/Brent D'Amico trailed Zaman/Zrinen 6-7 (abandoned)