Nov. 6, 2001
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas – Seniors Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) and Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia) will participate in doubles at the Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, to be held Thurs.-Sat. at the Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, Texas, just outside of Dallas.
The Irish pair are part of the 16-team doubles main draw. Smith and Taborga earned one of six at-large berths into the draw. The champion of each of the eight regional indoor tournaments, held last month, earned automatic entry into the tournament, as did the champion of last month’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships (Marcin Matkowski/Jean-Julien Rojer of UCLA, who also won the region VIII title and are the top seed in this tournament) and the winning team from the ITA National Small College Championships. The final spot was awarded via wild card to the pair of Krystian Pfeiffer and Ryan Mauck of Southern Methodist, which is hosting the event.
The tournament will open Thursday afternoon with first-round and quarterfinal matches. The semifinals will be Friday afternoon and the final is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m.
Smith and Taborga enter the final event of the Irish fall season with a 13-3 record and ranked 34th nationally. The pair reached the semifinals at the Omni Hotels Region IV Championships two weeks ago before losing 8-6 to the top-seeded pair of Amer Delic and Mike Calkins, the eventual champions. Delic and Calkins will not participate in the national indoors because of a broken wrist sustained by Delic in the singles final at the regional championships.
The loss to the Illinois pair snapped an eight-match winning streak for the Irish team, dating back to a first-round defeat at the All-Americans to the second-ranked and top-seeded pair of Scott Lipsky and David Martin of Stanford. The Irish, who won three qualifying matches to gain entry into the main draw, then captured the consolation championship. The title run included a 9-7 win over Calkins and Delic in the semifinals. Smith and Taborga’s other defeat this fall came to Oli Choo and Jonathan Chu of Harvard in the Tom Fallon Invitational.
The All-American Championships, the National Indoors, 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 Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships also feature a 32-player singles draw, consisting of the finalists from the eight regional championships, the All-American champion, the National Small College champion, 13 at-large selections and two local wild cards.
The National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships date back to 1978 and were played in February of each season and sponsored by Rolex until this year. Past singles champions include up-and-coming professionals Alex Kim of Stanford, Mike Russell of Miami and James Blake of Harvard, as well as current pro Todd Martin. Kim won the singles title in February, while Southern Methodist’s Johan Brunstrom and Jon Wallmark were the doubles champions.
IRISH AT THE NATIONAL INDOORS: Smith and Taborga are the first Notre Dame doubles team to participate in the National Indoor Championships since 1997 when Brian Patterson and Jakub Pietrowski won the Region IV doubles title to gain automatic entry into the National Indoors. After losing in the first round, the Irish pair won the consolation title. The best result by a Notre Dame doubles team in the tournament came in 1992 when Chuck Coleman and David DiLucia reached the final before falling to USC’s Brian MacPhie and Jon Leach 7-6, 6-4. No Irish players participated in last season’s National Indoors, but Ryan Sachire represented Notre Dame in singles in each of the previous four tournaments. Sachire reached the quarterfinals in 2000, won the consolation title in 1999 and reached the consolation semifinals in ’97 and ’98.