Oct. 19, 2001
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – One day before the two schools will meet on the football field, the University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team won five of six singles matches to defeat USC 5-2 Friday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion in a matchup of two of the nation’s elite men’s tennis squads. Nos. 4-6 singles were played first, followed by all three doubles matches and Nos. 1-3 singles in order to accomadate the concurrent Notre Dame-USC women’s tennis match.
Although team rankings are not released until the winter, the Trojans are considered one of the top squads in the country. USC finished last season ranked 20th in the nation and advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament. Troy returns all six starters from that team and also has added one nationally-ranked freshman.
The Irish, also expected to be one of the best teams in the nation, return eight letterwinners, including their top five players from the 2000-01 team that finished with a no. 16 national ranking and was ranked as high as 10th throughout the season. Combined, the two teams had six ranked singles players and two ranked doubles teams in action Friday.
The Irish sprinted out of the gate, winning all three singles matches in the first wave. Junior Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga.) put Notre Dame on the scoreboard first with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 victory over Teige Sullivan at No. 6 singles. Sophomore Matthew Scott (Paris, France) added another Irish victory by defeating Ruben Torres 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5 singles despite trailing 4-1 in the second set. Senior Aaron Talarico (Laguna Beach, Calif.) completed the sweep of the bottom half of the singles lineup with a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5 triumph over Daniel Langre at No. 4.
Notre Dame did not fare as well in doubles. After a loss at No. 2 doubles, the 34th-ranked doubles team of seniors Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) and Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia) improved to 10-2 on the season with an 8-6 win over Prakash Armitraj and Andrew Park. USC claimed the doubles point when Sullivan and Torres topped freshman Paul McNaughton (Hinsdale, Ill.) and senior Ashok Raju (Morgantown, W. Va.) 7-3 in a tiebreaker.
Notre Dame clinched the victory when 100th-ranked sophomore Luis Haddock-Morales (Caguas, Puerto Rico) upset #63 Damien Spizzo 6-1, 7-5 at No. 3 singles. Haddock-Morales improves to 7-0 in singles this fall. He also won his first nine matches of last fall. After the outcome was decided, 76th-ranked Taborga beat #97 Armitraj 7-6 (7-4), 6-7, 1-0 (11-9) at No. 2 singles. Smith, ranked 38th in singles, nearly pulled off an upset of the nation’s eighth-ranked singles player, Andrew Park, but the two-time All-American rallied to win 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Although this match does not officially count as a dual-match victory, the success over Southern Cal is notable, nonetheless. In nine official meetings between the schools, the Irish have won just once — in the 1992 NCAA semifinals. The teams have not met in an official dual match since 1993, but have occasionally matched up in fall exhibition play, including twice in the past three years.
The Irish return to action next week at the Omni Hotels/ITA Midwest Championships in East Lansing, Mich. from Oct. 25-30.
Notre Dame 5, USC 2
No. 1: #8 Andrew Park (USC) d. #38 Casey Smith (ND) 4-6, 6-3, 7-5
No. 2: #76 Javier Taborga (ND) d. #97 Prakash Armitraj (USC) 7-6 (7-4), 6-7, 1-0 (11-9)
No. 3: #100 Luis Haddock-Morales (ND) d. #63 Damien Spizzo (USC) 6-1, 7-5
No. 4: Aaron Talarico (ND) d. Daniel Langre (USC) 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5
No. 5: Matthew Scott (ND) d. Ruben Torres (USC) 6-3, 6-4
No. 6: Brian Farrell (ND) d. Teige Sullivan (USC) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2
No. 1: #34 Smith/Taborga (ND) d. Armitraj/Park (USC) 8-6
No. 2: Langre/Spizzo (USC) d. #30 Haddock-Morales/Talarico (ND) 8-3
No. 3: Sullivan/Torres (USC) d. Paul McNaughton/Ashok Raju (ND) 9-8 (7-3)