March 13, 2002

Montgomery, Ala. – The fourth-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team, 12-3 on the season, defends its tournament championship of a year ago when it opens against Tulsa in the first round of the Blue-Gray National Classic in Montgomery Ala. Match time against the Golden Hurricanes, who are ranked 45th in the nation and have an 11-4 record, is 2:30 p.m. EST.

Notre Dame, who won the Blue-Gray Classic title in 2001 with wins over Tulane, Rice, Auburn and Fresno State, and is seeded number one this year, joins nine other ranked teams in the outdoor invitational, which runs through Sunday. Other ranked teams in Montgomery this weekend include No. 5 Illinois, No. 33 North Carolina, No. 35 Tulane, No. 36 Rice, No. 40 San Diego State, No. 51 William & Mary and No. 69 Louisville.

If Notre Dame defeats Tulsa on Thursday, they would then face the winner of the Alabama-Birmingham/Rice match on Friday.

The Irish are playing in their 10th Blue-Gray National Classic in 2002, having good success in this tournament in the past. The Irish have won the tournament twice (1993 and 2000) and have an overall record of 16-11 in Montgomery, including a 13-5 record the past five years.

In other news, Notre Dame moved up two spots to fourth in the Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings released today. It marks the highest ranking for the Irish men since early in the 1993 season when they were ranked sixth in the nation.

Opening-round pairings for the 2002 Blue-Gray National Classic:
(1) Notre Dame vs. Tulsa
Alabama-Birmingham vs. Rice
(4) Indiana State vs. William & Mary
North Carolina vs. Harvard
Virginia Commonwealth vs. San Diego State
South Alabama vs. (3) Middle Tennessee State
Fresno State vs. Tulane
Louisville vs. (2) Illinois