Feb. 8, 2002
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Senior Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia) upset defending NCAA singles and doubles champion Matias Boeker, but it was not enough as the 10th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team dropped a close 4-2 decision to top-ranked Georgia in quarterfinal action Friday at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the Louisville Tennis Club. The defending national champion Bulldogs won the doubles point and took a 2-0 lead, but the Irish rallied to tie the score 2-2 before Georgia clinched the match with a three-set victory by Lesley Joseph at No. 4.
The Irish, who upset #7 Pepperdine in Thursday’s opening round, fell to 7-2 and will face fifth-ranked Mississippi Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in their final match of the tournament. The Rebels gained a first-round victory over Indiana State before losing in the quarterfinals to #6 Illinois. Georgia improves to 5-0 in 2002 and has won its last 27 matches, including 10 against top-10 teams in that stretch. The Bulldogs will face the Illini in Saturday’s semifinals.
With the Irish trailing 2-0 in the match, 95th-ranked Taborga snapped Boeker’s 21-match winning streak, which dated back to last March, with a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles. Taborga is 7-2 in dual-match action, including 5-1 in the No. 1 position. Overall, he has won 11 of his last 14 singles matches with all three losses coming to ranked players (#22 Harsh Mankad of Minnesota, #78 Aleksey Zharinov of Minnesota and #7 Al Garland of Pepperdine).
“Any time you beat the defending NCAA champion, it is something to feel great about,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss of Taborga’s win. “Javy is making the transition from a fellow who was primarily an outdoor player to being a good indoor player by being more aggressive and coming into the net. Today, he took it to Boeker. It wasn’t a fluke because Javy actually dictated the play.”
The Bulldogs escaped with the doubles point, which proved to be paramount in the match. Georgia got a win at No. 1 from Boeker and Bo Hodge in an 8-5 decision. The Irish struck back with an 8-6 win at No. 3 by senior Aaron Talarico (Laguna Beach, Fla.) and freshman Brent D’Amico (Centennial, Colo.). The doubles point was decided by a tiebreaker at No. 2, in which Adam Seri and Brandon Wagner won 7-3.
Georgia then clinched the win by taking some closely-contested singles matches. Hodge gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 2 before Taborga got the Irish on the board with his win. Notre Dame tied the match when sophomore Matthew Scott (Paris, France) gained a 6-4, 6-4 victory at No. 5. He improves to 17-2 in singles this season, including a 9-0 record in dual matches. Scott has won 15 of his last 16 matches. Georgia took the lead again when eighth-ranked Brandon Wagner notched a 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5) win at No. 3 to set up the clinching victory, provided by Joseph’s 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 triumph at No. 4. The No. 6 singles match was abandoned with D’Amico and Stephan Timu tied 1-1 in the third set.
Friday was not the first time Taborga has knocked off one of the nation?s elite players. In last year’s ITA All-American Championships, he upset Stanford’s K.J. Hippensteel, who was ranked third nationally at the time, but is currently the top-ranked singles player in the country. This season, he also posted big wins over 24th-ranked Michael Yani of Duke and #20 Jeremy Wurtzman of Ohio State.
Boeker ended 2001 winning his last 18 matches of the season, culminating in the NCAA singles title — a feat he achieved without losing a set in six NCAA tournament matches. He also combined with Travis Parrott to win the NCAA doubles title and helped the Bulldogs to the team championship, becoming just the third player in history to accomplish college tennis’ “Triple Crown.” Boeker was ranked No. 1 in singles in the preseason rankings, but did not play any collegiate matches in the fall and, thus, was not eligible for ranking.
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 are competing for the seventh time, but the first since 1996. Each of the top 12 teams in the current ITA national rankings are participating in the event.
#1 Georgia 4, #10 Notre Dame 2
No. 1: #95 Javier Taborga (ND) d. Matias Boeker (G) 6-4, 6-2
No. 2: Bo Hodge (G) d. Aaron Talarico (ND) 6-1, 6-4
No. 3: #8 Brandon Wagner (G) d. #88 Casey Smith (ND) 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5)
No. 4: Lesley Joseph (G) d. #83 Luis Haddock-Morales (ND) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
No. 5: Matthew Scott (ND) d. Adam Seri 6-4, 6-4
No. 6: Brent D?Amico (ND) vs. Stephan Timu (G) 3-6, 6-3, 1-1, abandoned
No. 1: M. Boeker/Hodge (G) d. #6 Smith/Taborga (ND) 8-5
No. 2: Seri/Wagner (G) d. James Malhame/Ashok Raju (ND) 9-8 (3)
No. 3: D?Amico/Talarico (ND) d. Joseph/Timu 8-6