Feb. 9, 2002
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 10th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team lost three three-set matches and was edged 4-3 by fifth-ranked Mississippi in action Saturday in the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the Louisville Tennis Club. The Irish took the doubles point, but the Rebels (5-1) won four of six singles matches, including three of four three-setters, to gain the win. With the match tied 3-3, 51st-ranked Kristofer Stahlberg outlasted Irish senior Aaron Talarico (Laguna Beach, Calif.) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in a match that lasted over three hours and was the only match on-court for its final 45 minutes. Notre Dame (7-3) will return to action next weekend with a pair of matches in the Eck Tennis Pavilion, taking on #64 Wisconsin Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and #49 Purdue Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Notre Dame captured the doubles point with wins in the first two matches off the court. Talarico and freshman Brent D’Amico (Centennial, Colo.) won their third match of the weekend with an 8-2 win at No. 3. Seniors James Malhame (Douglaston, N.Y.) and Ashok Raju (Morgantown, W. Va.) clinched the doubles point by winning 8-5 at No. 2. Seniors Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) and Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia) were also on their way to victory, but their match at No. 1 doubles was abandoned with the Irish pair leading 7-4.
The Rebels took four of six singles matches to gain the win. Mississippi got on the board when Claes Lindholm won 6-2, 6-4 at No. 6. Taborga, ranked 95th, then delivered an upset of 21st-ranked Alex Hartman 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 at No. 1. The Irish senior is 8-2 this spring, including 6-1 at the No. 1 position and has registered wins over the defending NCAA singles champion Matias Boeker of Georgia and three players ranked in the top 25 nationally (#24 Michael Yani of Duke, #20 Jeremy Wurtzman of Ohio State and Hartman). Taborga has won 12 of his last 15 singles matches, dating back to the fall, with all three losses coming to ranked players (#2 Harsh Mankad of Minnesota, #78 Aleksey Zharinov of Minnesota and #7 Al Garland of Pepperdine).
The remaining four singles matches were decided in three sets, with Mississippi taking three of them. Paul Ciorascu, ranked 64th, delivered a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory over 83rd-ranked Luis Haddock-Morales (Caguas, Puerto Rico) at No. 4 and Catalin Gard defeated Smith 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3 to give the Rebels a 3-2 lead. The Irish tied the match when sophomore Matthew Scott (Paris, France) won 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3 at No. 5. Stahlberg then delivered the match-clincher. Scott improved to 18-2 in singles this season, including a 10-0 record in dual matches. He has won 16 of his last 17 matches.
The National Team Indoor Championships is the premier national team indoor tournament. It features 16 of the top teams in the country and has been held each year since 1973. The Irish competed for the seventh time, but the first since 1996. Each of the top 12 teams in the current ITA national rankings were in the event.
Notre Dame was 1-2 in this year’s Team Indoor Championships. The Irish upset seventh-ranked Pepperdine on Thursday 4-3 to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1994. The Irish won the doubles point and then split the singles matches. Smith broke serve at 4-4 in the third set of the final match on-court to gain a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win over 54th-ranked Calle Hansen at No. 3 singles to clinch the victory. The Waves were the highest-ranked opponent to fall victim to Notre Dame since 1994.
The Irish fell 4-2 to top-ranked Georgia on Friday, but Taborga upset defending NCAA singles and doubles champion Matias Boeker 6-4, 6-2 to snap his 21-match winning streak. The defending national team champion Bulldogs won the doubles point with a tiebreaker victory at No. 2 and then won three of the first five singles matches completed to secure their 30th consecutive win. Lesley Joseph, who was ranked 15th in the preseason singles rankings, clinched the win with a three-set victory at No. 4.
#5 Mississippi 4, #10 Notre Dame 3
No. 1: #95 Javier Taborga (ND) d. #21 Alex Hartman (M) 7-6 (5), 6-4
No. 2: #51 Kristofer Stahlberg (M) d. Aaron Talarico (ND) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5
No. 3: Catalin Gard (M) d. #88 Casey Smith (ND) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
No. 4: #64 Paul Ciorascu (M) d. #83 Luis Haddock-Morales (ND) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
No. 5: Matthew Scott (ND) d. Martin Selin (M) 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3
No. 6: Claes Lindholm (M) d. Brent D’Amico (ND) 6-2, 6-4
No. 1: #6 Smith/Taborga (ND) vs. Stahlberg/Selin (M) 7-4, abandoned
No. 2: James Malhame/Ashok Raju (ND) d. Hartman/Gard (M) 8-5
No. 3: D’Amico/Talarico (ND) d. Ciorascu/Lindholm (M) 8-2