April 13, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The seventh-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team dropped a 4-1 decision to No. 16 Kentucky Saturday afternoon at the Courtney Tennis Center. The Wildcats won the doubles point and three of the four completed singles matches to improve to 18-8 this season. Notre Dame fell to 18-6 and will return to action on Sunday, traveling to Muncie, Ind. to face Ball State at 1:00 p.m. in the season finale for the Irish.
Kentucky won the bottom two doubles matches to take a 1-0 lead. The Irish team of seniors Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) and Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia), ranked fourth in the nation, got Notre Dame off to a good start with an 8-2 win at No. 1 before the Wildcats rallied. Jesse Witten and Rahim Esmail registered an 8-4 win at No. 3 before Gustav Pousette and Johan Grunditz clinched the doubles point with an 8-5 victory at No. 2.
The Wildcats won five first sets on their way to winning three of the first four singles matches off the court. Karim Benmansour, ranked 59th nationally in singles, was the first to finish his match — a 6-2, 6-2 victory at No. 2. Pousette, ranked 84th, gave the ‘Cats a 3-0 lead with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 4 before Irish senior Andrew Laflin (Tampa, Fla.) got his team on the board with a 6-1, 6-3 victory at No. 6 to improve to 19-1 this season. Witten, the eighth-ranked singles player in collegiate tennis, secured the Wildcat triumph with a 6-3, 6-4 win at No.1. The matches at Nos. 3 and 5 were abandoned due to Kentucky travel plans, though Notre Dame sophomore Matthew Scott (Paris, France) had come back from a one-set deficit to force a third set at No. 5.
#16 Kentucky 4, #7 Notre Dame 1
No. 1: #8 Jesse Witten (K) d. #18 Javier Taborga (ND) 6-3, 6-4
No. 2: #59 Karim Benmansour (K) d. #87 Casey Smith (ND) 6-2, 6-2
No. 3: Evan Austin (K) vs. Aaron Talarico (ND) 6-3, 2-3, abandoned
No. 4: #84 Gustav Pousette (K) d. Luis Haddock-Morales (ND) 6-3, 6-2
No. 5: #79 Matthew Scott (ND) vs. #94 Johan Grunditz (K) 2-6, 6-2, 2-1, abandoned
No. 6: Andrew Laflin (ND) d. Rahim Esmail (K) 6-1, 6-3
No. 1: #4 Smith/Taborga (ND) d. Austin/Benmansour (K) 8-2
No. 2: Grunditz/Pousette (K) d. James Malhame/Talarico (ND) 8-5
No. 3: Esmail/Witten (K) d. Brent D’Amico/Ashok Raju (ND) 8-5