Oct. 10, 2001
STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – Seniors Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) and Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia) advanced to the 32-team doubles main draw with a victory Wednesday at the ITA All-American Championships at the Lincoln Tennis Center.
Smith and Taborga, ranked 34th and seeded sixth in the qualifying tournament, defeated Marcus Berntson and Mark Roberts 8-3 in a qualifying match in the first collegiate grand slam event of the season. The Irish duo, who defeated Tony Mule and Marcio Torres of UNC-Greensboro 8-6 on Tuesday in the first round of qualifying, will play in the first round of the main draw on Thursday after improving to 5-1 on the season.
Smith, ranked 38th nationally in singles, was one of 48 players receiving automatic entry into the main draw of singles. He is slated to play two matches on Thursday.
“Since this is such a new doubles team, it is exciting to see them move along like this at one of the premier tournaments in the country,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss of the pair that played two matches together in their first collegiate tournament as freshmen, but had not teamed up since then until this season. “We are looking forward to seeing what they can do together in the main draw, as well as throughout the season.”
“We are also anxious to follow Casey’s progress in the singles competition to see how he stacks up against some of the best players in the nation,” said Bayliss.
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.