Oct. 13, 2001
STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – Irish seniors Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) and Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia) won two matches Saturday to claim the consolation doubles championship in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships at the Lincoln Tennis Center. In the semifinals and final, the Irish pair beat two top-30 doubles squads they will see again in the dual-match season.
In their first match of the day, the consolation semifinals, Smith and Taborga downed Illinois’ #14 team of Michael Calkins and Amer Delic 9-7. The Illini pair was up one break of serve, 7-4, and had two match points before the Irish squad won five straight games to clinch the upset.
Illinois and Notre Dame, who were the top two teams in the Midwest Region a season ago, will meet each other in dual-match play on March 7 in Champaign, Ill. The two teams will also both participate in the ITA Midwest Region Singles and Doubles Championships in East Lansing, Mich. from October 26-28.
In the consolation final, the 34th-ranked Notre Dame team beat #26 James Cameron and John Chesworth of Furman 8-5. The Irish and Paladins will face off on January 19 at Notre Dame, the first day of the Irish dual-match season.
Over the week, Smith and Taborga won six of seven matches to improve to 9-2 on the season. The team won a pair of qualifying matches to earn entry into the main draw and then won all four matches in the consolation bracket after losing their first-round tilt. In all, the Irish team notched three wins over ranked teams: the two on Saturday, as well as an 8-3 victory over #12 Olivier Levant and Eleazar Magallan of Florida on Friday. Levant was part of the team that won the doubles title at the 2000 All-American Championships.
The only loss suffered by the Irish was an 8-6 decision to Scott Lipsky and David Martin of Stanford, the top seed and second-ranked doubles team in the nation. Lipsky and Martin have advanced to the final of the main draw and will take on Marcin Matkowski and Jean-Julien Rojer of UCLA tomorrow.
Smith, Taborga and Aaron Talarico (Laguna Beach, Calif.) participated in the singles tournament at the All-American Championships. Taborga and Talarico both lost in the first round of qualifying on Tuesday, while Smith, who had automatic entry into the main draw, won his first round match before falling in the second round to South Alabama’s Kosta Zinchanka. Zinchanka went on to reach the final, in which he will face third-seeded and 1999 tournament champion K.J. Hippensteel of Stanford tomorrow.
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 Notre Dame men’s tennis team will return to action this Friday, October 19, when they take on USC at the Courtney Tennis Center. The dual match will count for individual ranking purposes, but will not count on the teams’ records. The Trojans finished last season ranked 20th in the nation and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA championships. This season, they boast the eighth-ranked singles player in the nation (Andrew Park), as well as the top-ranked doubles squad, Ryan Moore and Nick Rainey.
#34 Casey Smith/Javier Taborga (ND) d. #14 Michael Calkins/Amer Delic (Illinois) 9-7
#34 Smith/Taborga (ND) d. #26 James Cameron/John Chesworth (Furman) 8-5