Oct. 9, 2001
STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – Seniors Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) and Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia) advanced to the second and final round of doubles qualifying with a victory Tuesday at the ITA All-American Championships at the Lincoln Tennis Center. Also on Tuesday, Taborga and classmate Aaron Talarico (Laguna Beach, Calif.) dropped qualifying singles matches to players ranked in the top 10 nationally in doubles at the first collegiate grand slam event of the season.
Smith and Taborga, ranked 34th and seeded sixth in the qualifying tournament, defeated Tony Mule and Marcio Torres of UNC-Greensboro 8-6 in the opening round of qualifying. Mule and Torres won four matches in the pre-qualifying tournament to gain a spot in the qualifying draw. The Irish pair, seeded sixth in the qualifying tournament will take on the Boise State duo of Marcus Berntson and Mark Roberts Wednesday at Noon. At stake will be a berth in the 32-team main draw. Berntson and Roberts beat Albano Franco and Miha Lisac of Georgia State 8-4 on Tuesday.
Taborga, who advanced through qualifying to the third round of the singles main draw in last year’s All-American Championships, was seeded 10th in the 2001 qualifying tournament. He started out well on Tuesday, breaking serve twice in the first set to take a 5-2 lead. But Duke’s Mike Yani, ranked 10th nationally in doubles, would rally to upset Taborga 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
Talarico also fell victim to an accomplished doubles player, David Wright of Georgia Tech, who is part of the eighth-ranked doubles team in the country. Talarico, like Taborga, took a 5-2 first-set lead before Wright won 11 straight games to secure a 7-5, 6-0 victory.
Smith, ranked 38th nationally in singles, was one of 48 players receiving automatic entry into the main draw of singles. He will play his first singles match on Thursday.
The ITA All-American Championships, the Nov. 8-11 Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, and the year-end NCAA Championships are college tennis’ three national championship events during the season. From 1986 until last year there were four national events, but the ITA National Clay Court Championships is no longer played.
The main draw (Thurs.-Sun.) is preceded by two rounds of qualifying tournaments, combining to make the All-American Championships the largest collegiate tennis tournament in the country. The 256-player (128 doubles) prequalifying tournament was held Fri.-Mon. and eight players and doubles teams advanced from there to the 64-player (32 doubles) qualifying tournament (where 16 players and eight doubles teams will advance to the main draw), played Tuesday and Wednesday.
The premier hard court event of the fall collegiate season, the ITA All-American Championships feature the top players in NCAA Division I tennis. This year’s event is highlighted by 14 of the top 20 players in the country. Duke’s Phil King, an NCAA quarterfinalist and ITA National Rookie of the Year last season, is the top seed. The Irish will face King and the Blue Devils in Durham, N.C. on January 29. In doubles, Stanford’s David Martin and Scott Lipsky, NCAA semifinalists last season, are the No. 1 seeds.
The ITA Men’s All-American Championships date back to 1979 and will take place for the second straight year at the Lincoln Tennis Center at Stone Mountain. Recent champions include up-and-coming professionals Bob Bryan of Stanford and James Blake of Harvard. SMU’s Genius Chidzikwe and Florida’s Olivier Levant and Nathan Overholser won last year’s singles and doubles titles, respectively.