April 18, 2000

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The 29th-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team travels to Miami this weekend for the BIG EAST Championships. The Irish will be looking to defend the title they won last year by beating the host Hurricanes 4-3 in the championship match. Notre Dame went 1-1 last week, falling 5-2 at Michigan and winning 5-2 at Ball State.

BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Notre Dame will be making its fifth appearance at the BIG EAST championship after winning in 1996 and 1999 and finishing second to Miami in 1997 and 1998. The 29th-ranked Irish have been seeded second out of the 11 teams in the tournament. Miami, currently ranked 18th in the country, is seeded first. Third-seeded St. John’s, fourth-seeded West Virginia and fifth-seeded Rutgers round out the top five seeds, all of which receive first-round byes. The Irish will play their first match on Fri., April 21, against the winner of Thursday’s match between eighth-seeded Villanova and ninth-seeded Georgetown. In 1999, the top-seeded Irish blanked Boston College and Rutgers 4-0 to reach the championship match against Miami for the fourth time. The Hurricanes won the doubles point and led 3-2 before freshmen Casey Smith and Javier Taborga each won 7-5 in the third set to help rally the Irish to a 4-3 win. In both 1998 and 1997, the top-seeded Irish won 4-0 in their first two matches before falling to second-seeded Miami in the championship. In their first appearance in 1996, the Irish did not drop a match in beating eighth-seeded Boston College, fifth-seeded Rutgers and second-seeded Miami 4-0 to claim the title. The Irish will be making their first trip this season to the Neil Schiff Tennis Complex in Coral Gables, Fla. Notre Dame played top-seeded Miami at home on Feb. 20, with the Hurricanes winning 5-2.

WEEK IN REVIEW: The Irish won the double point but won just one singles match in losing 5-2 to 26th-ranked Michigan on Thursday in Ann Arbor, Mich. Irish senior All-American Ryan Sachire beat Matt Wright 6-3, 6-3 at No. 1 singles but Notre Dame lost three three-set singles matches, including two after winning the first set. Sachire and Trent Miller beat 55th-ranked Danny McCain and Wright 8-6 in just their second match of the season at No. 1 doubles. Junior Matt Daly and sophomore Aaron Talarico clinched the doubles point with an 8-6 win over Zach Held and John Long. In singles, Sachire gave the Irish a 2-0 lead with his victory at No. 1 singles. Long then beat Daly at No. 2 singles before McCain beat Talarico at No. 4 singles to tie the match at 2-2. Michigan then won the remaining matches in three sets to beat Notre Dame for just second time in the last 12 meetings. Notre Dame won the doubles point and won four of six singles matches to beat 49th-ranked host Ball State 5-2 on Saturday. The Irish won four singles matches in straights to complete their regular season with a 10-9 record. Sachire and Miller beat 37th-ranked Ryan Baxter and Jason Pressel 8-3 at No. 1 doubles, and Daly and Talarico won 8-2 over Kevin Burnett and Andrew Seni at No. 2 doubles. Leading 1-0 after doubles, the Irish won four singles matches without losing a set to beat the Cardinals for the 12th consecutive time. Sachire beat Baxter 6-4, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, while Smith won 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3 over Seni. Talarico beat Rivera 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4 singles, while Malhame beat Chris Varga 6-3, 6-3 at No. 6 singles. Ball State used wins by Pressel at No. 2 singles and Westerhof at No. 5 singles for its two points.

SACHIRE NEARS FOURTH 30-WIN SEASON: Senior captain and All-American Ryan Sachire — ranked 10th in the latest ITA singles rankings — enters the BIG EAST Championship with a 28-9 singles record this season. With two wins this weekend, Sachire would become the first Irish player under 13th-year head coach Bob Bayliss to win at least 30 singles matches all four years. He had 37-9 records during both his freshman and junior seasons and was 34-14 as a sophomore. Sachire leads the team in dual matches with a 15-4 record at No. 1 singles and has won 38 of his last 45 dual singles matches at No. 1 singles. His career record stands at 136-42, while his record in dual singles matches is 75-18.

MALHAME MAKES SINGLES DEBUT: Sophomore James Malhame played his first career dual singles match against Ball State and beat Chris Varga 6-3, 6-3 at No. 6 singles. The singles appearance marked his first since winning two matches at the William & Mary Invitational in October and improved his singles record this season to 3-0. Earlier in the dual-match season, Malhame joined his fellow classmates in taking his place in Notre Dame’s sophomore-dominated lineup. He has played at No. 3 doubles in 16 of the team’s 19 dual matches in 2000 with both Casey Smith and Ashok Raju. Malhame and Smith went 3-0 at the Blue-Gray National Classic, helping the Irish win the doubles point against Virginia, Illinois and UAB.

IRISH AT THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: Three current Irish players enter this year’s BIG EAST championships after perfect singles performances in their debuts a year ago. Sophomore Casey Smith posted a 3-0 singles record a season ago while going 2-1 in doubles with junior Matt Daly. Sophomore Javier Taborga won both of his singles matches as well and split a pair of doubles contests. Ryan Sachire enters his fourth BIG EAST championships with a 9-3 overall record, 4-2 in singles and 5-1 in doubles. A season ago Sachire was perfect, claiming all three singles matches and also the sole doubles match that he finished. Senior Trent Miller, the only other current player to have played in more than one BIG EAST championship, has a 2-1 career record in doubles play. Andrew Laflin lost his only singles match last year, while fellow sophomore Aaron Talarico was 1-0 in doubles.

TABORGA, TALARICO IN THE RANKINGS: Sophomores Javier Taborga and Aaron Talarico are ranked 30th in the country, according to the latest ITA rankings. Among their 15 wins are seven victories over ranked opponents against just one loss. The pair has a 10-5 mark at No. 1 doubles in 2000 and an overall record of 15-7. Their highest ranked win of the season came against Illinois’ ninth-ranked Jeff Laski and Jamal Parker. Taborga and Talarico played just six matches together as freshmen and went 3-3. They beat Baylor’s David Hodge and Johan Jooste — ranked 11th at the time — in their first match together last season.

MILLER AND SACHIRE ON A ROLL: The senior doubles team of Trent Miller and Ryan Sachire started the season with a 2-5 record, including a 1-3 mark during the fall. Since an 8-2 win against Kentucky on Feb. 8, the pair has compiled a 12-3 record, with its only losses coming to two ranked opponents and in a tiebreaker. They have wins over four ranked teams during their recent wins, including a win over Illinois’ 12th-ranked Jeff Laski and Jamal Parker at the Blue-Gray National Classic. Last week Miller and Sachire helped the Irish win the doubles point against both Michigan and Ball State with wins over ranked opponents at No. 1 doubles.

LAFLIN CLINCHES WINS: Sophomore Andrew Laflin has won the clinching singles matches in five of Notre Dame’s 10 wins during the spring season, including decisive matches against Purdue and Northwestern in one weekend. Most recently he helped the Irish beat UAB 5-2 with his 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 1-0 (11-9) after trailing 2-5 in the second and 3-8 in the match tiebreaker. He also won decisive matches in the 4-3 win over Ohio State and against Michigan State. His record of 17-14 includes wins in the fall over USC’s Nicholas Rainey and Wisconsin’s Danny Westerman and Scott Rutherford.

SMITH NETS RANKED WIN: Sophomore Casey Smith helped the Irish to a split of singles matches against 10th-ranked Texas with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) win over 25th-ranked Longhorn Michael Blue, marking the highest-ranked opponent Smith has beaten in his collegiate career. He posted wins over two other ranked opponents this season, beating Illinois’ Jeff Laski and Kentucky’s Johan Hesoun.

FARRELL FILLS IN: Freshman Brian Farrell, after a 5-1 record in the fall, has subbed in and out of the dual-match singles lineup in 2000 and compiled a 6-5 record at No. 6 singles. In his second dual-match appearance — with the Irish leading 18th-ranked Kentucky 3-0 but with the three other singles matches to be decided in third sets — Farrell abruptly ended any suspense about the outcome of the match with a 6-2, 7-6 win over Reven Stephens at No. 6 singles. In Notre Dame’s win over 26th-ranked Virginia, Farrell — in his first action in 18 days — won the clinching match in the 4-2 victory when he defeated Robert Abendroth 6-3, 6-4. His record in tiebreaker stands at a team-leading 7-0 in the 15 matches he has played.

ITA RANKINGS: The Irish stand 29th among the 75 teams ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association after finishing 1999 ranked 31st. Senior All-American Ryan Sachire is ranked 10th in singles. Sophomores Javier Taborga and Aaron Talarico are ranked 30th in doubles.

2000 IRISH SLATE: The Irish completed their regular season with matches against 17 ranked teams, including three matches against top 10 teams. Notre Dame finished tied for fifth its annual trip to Montgomery, Ala., for the prestigious Blue-Gray Classic. Notre Dame looks to defend its 1999 BIG EAST championship April 20-23, at Miami.

HEAD COACH BOB BAYLISS: Irish head coach Bob Bayliss is in his 13th year as head coach of the Irish, compiling a 241-112 (.683) record at Notre Dame and a career mark of 523-205 (.718), the fifth-best winning percentage among active men’s coaches. Bayliss became the 11th active men’s tennis coach to record 500 career wins on Feb. 20, 1999. He has guided the Irish to NCAA championship appearances in each of the last nine years, including an NCAA second-place finish in 1992. The Richmond, Va., native, and 1966 graduate of Richmond has been named ITA national coach of the year in 1992 and ITA regional coach of the year three times. The six-time conference coach of year has coached his players to 13 All-America honors in his 12 years at Notre Dame, with senior Ryan Sachire his latest All-American.

IRISH INK HADDOCK: Luis Haddock, ranked 20th by the United States Tennis Association among 18-and-under boys, has signed a national letter of intent to attend Notre Dame in the fall of 2000. The Caguas, Puerto Rico, native also was ranked third in the country last year in doubles. Haddock looks to become the second men’s tennis monogram winner to come to Notre Dame from Puerto Rico. Pedro Rossell?, the current governor of Puerto Rico, played for the Irish from 1963-66, captaining the ’66 team that finished 15-0. Haddock is a senior at Colegio Cat?lico Notre Dame, where he is ranked first in his class with a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average.