May 11, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 14th-seeded University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championships with a 4-0 victory over Michigan Saturday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish won the doubles point and the Nos. 1, 2, and 6 singles matches to take the victory over a Wolverine team that was responsible for a 4-3 upset of the then-fourth-ranked Irish in March. On Saturday, Notre Dame was led by its seniors, getting two victories apiece from Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) and Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia), as well as a singles triumph from Andrew Laflin (Tampa, Fla.).
Notre Dame improves to 22-6 and will take on 40th-ranked Purdue in second-round action on Sunday at Noon at the Courtney Tennis Center or Eck Tennis Pavilion (depending on weather conditions). The Boilermakers registered a 4-1 victory over Ball State Saturday morning at Notre Dame.
“The doubles point was huge,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss of his team’s win. “We lost the doubles point at Michigan and we did win Nos. 4, 5 and 6. So I thought we were better at Nos. 4, 5 and 6. But I was not counting on winning as easily as Javier and Casey did. But we’re looking at two seniors who potentially were playing their last match in college or their next-to-last home match. They played inspired tennis.”
Notre Dame won the doubles point on the strength of a tiebreak victory in the last match on the court. Smith and Taborga, the fifth-ranked doubles pair in the nation, got their team off to a good start with an 8-5 win at No. 1 to improve to 31-11 this season. Henry Beam and Matt Lockin then struck back for Michigan with an 8-5 victory at No. 2.
In the deciding match, sophomore Luis Haddock-Morales (Caguas, Puerto Rico) and freshman Brent D’Amico (Centennial, Colo.) held off a number of challenges by their Wolverine opponents for a 9-8 (8-6) win. The Notre Dame team served for the match with a 7-4 lead, but was broken and eventually forced into a tiebreaker. After seeming to take control of the tiebreaker with a 4-1 lead, the Irish pair again had to sustain a Michigan rally as Anthony Jackson and Greg Novak stormed back to gain a match point, leading 6-5. The Irish pair responded by running off three straight points to clinch the doubles point — something Notre Dame could not do in the regular season against Michigan.
After losing each of the top three singles matches earlier this season against the Wolverines, Notre Dame won at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, as well as No. 6, to clinch the NCAA victory. Smith, the Irish captain, finished first with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 win at No. 2. Laflin gave the Irish a 2-0 lead with a 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 6, improving to 23-1 this season, including 17-1 in dual matches. Laflin has won each of his last 21 home matches, dating back to 1999-2000. Overall, the Irish senior has won 37 of his last 40 matches.
Taborga, ranked 15th nationally in singles, clinched the Irish win with a 7-5, 6-3 victory at No. 1 over 72nd-ranked Henry Beam. In the regular-season match, Beam upset Taborga 6-2, 6-2. The win was the 11th of the season for the Irish senior over a ranked opponent.
The Irish advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season and will look for their first trip to the round of 16 since 1994. The win snapped a three-match losing skid for Notre Dame in NCAA action at home. The Irish played host to early-round NCAA action, but lost their opening match in 1998 and ’96 and lost in the round of 32 at home in 1995. The only time Notre Dame has hosted early-round NCAA action and advanced to the national site was 1994.
In the morning match, which was played mostly at the Courtney Tennis Center before being moved into the Eck Tennis Pavilion for the final 10 minutes, Purdue defeated Ball State 4-1, while local players had notable results. The Boilermakers won the doubles point and each of the bottom three singles matches to improve to 13-11 this season and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second time in school history. Purdue also won an NCAA match in 1998 at the Courtney Tennis Center.
Ball State junior Chris Varga, who was born in South Bend, Ind., attended St. Joseph’s High School and resides in Granger, provided the lone victory for his squad, a 6-2, 6-1 triumph at No. 2 singles. The clinching victory for Purdue was also delivered by a player with local connections, in the form of a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 6 singles by sophomore Troy Havens, a Mishawaka resident and graduate of Penn High School.
“With Troy Havens playing on what used to be his home practice court, it was great to have him clinch the match for us,” said Purdue head coach Tim Madden after the morning match. “Being in the round of 32 in the NCAA Championships is a big deal for our team. We have never been to the final 16 so whoever is there with us tomorrow can expect a battle.”
“It was pretty nice coming home,” said Havens. “I grew up around here and when I practiced, this is where I did it. I love playing here because there is always a lot of support.”
Notre Dame and Purdue met in regular-season action on February 17 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion, with the Irish notching a 7-0 victory, though two singles matches were decided in three sets and the Boilermakers were without Derek Miller and Carl McCafferty, who play Nos. 2 and 3 singles. The Irish have won each of the last 12 meetings and a win on Sunday would be the 43rd for Notre Dame in 51 all-time meetings, making the Boilermakers the most-defeated opponent in the 80-year history of Irish tennis. The teams have never met in postseason play.
“It will be a real tough match,” said Bayliss. “We beat them earlier because they were missing their Nos. 2 and 3 players. We’re going to have to play really well. We played Ball State earlier this year and won 4-3, but Purdue beat them pretty handily. We’ll have our hands full.”
#40 Purdue 4, Ball State 1
No. 1: Jason Pressel (BSU) vs. #118 Scott Mayer (P) 7-6 (7-5), abandoned
No. 2: Chris Varga (BSU) d. Derek Miller (P) 6-2, 6-1
No. 3: Andrew Seni (BSU) vs. Carl McCafferty (P) 6-4, 2-2, abandoned
No. 4: Andrew Wakefield (P) d. Kevin Burnett (BSU) 6-1, 6-1
No. 5: Laith Al-Agba (P) d. Matt Laramore (BSU) 6-2, 6-2
No. 6: Troy Havens (P) d. Brad Rhodes (BSU) 6-4, 6-3
Order of Finish: 4, 5, 2, 6*
No. 1: Mayer/Dan Swan (P) d. Burnett/Pressel (BSU) 8-3
No. 2: Seni/Varga (BSU) vs. Al-Agba/McCafferty (P) 6-4, abandoned
No. 3: Seth McKinley/Miller (P) d. Laramore/Rhodes (P) 8-5
Order of Finish: 3, 1*
#14 Notre Dame 4, #47 Michigan 0
No. 1: #15 Javier Taborga (ND) d. #72 Henry Beam (M) 7-5, 6-3
No. 2: #102 Casey Smith (ND) d. Ben Cox (M) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
No. 3: Aaron Talarico (ND) vs. Matt Lockin (M) 6-3, 3-6, abandoned
No. 4: Anthony Jackson (M) vs. Luis Haddock-Morales (ND) 2-6, 7-5, 2-1, abandoned
No. 5: Greg Novak (M) vs. #120 Matthew Scott (ND) 6-2, 4-4, abandoned
No. 6: Andrew Laflin (ND) d. Josef Fischer (M) 6-0, 6-3
Order of Finish: 2, 6, 1*
No. 1: #5 Smith/Taborga (ND) d. Brett Baudinet/Chris Shaya (M) 8-5
No. 2: Beam/Lockin (M) d. Ashok Raju/Talarico (ND) 8-5
No. 3: D’Amico/Haddock-Morales (ND) d. Jackson/Novak (M) 9-8 (8-6)
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3*