Nov. 8, 2001
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas – The doubles team of seniors Casey Smith (Leawood, Kan.) and Javier Taborga (La Paz, Bolivia) knocked off the nation’s top doubles team Thursday in advancing to the semifinals at the Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in Farmers Branch, Texas, just outside Dallas. The Irish pair won two matches on the first day of competition, highlighted by an 8-6 victory over the top-seeded team of Marcin Matkowski and Jean-Julien Rojer of UCLA.
The Irish team broke serve in the first game of the match and then held their own serve throughout to gain the win. Matkowski and Rojer won last month’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships and had not lost a match this season prior to falling to Smith and Taborga, winning each of the three previous tournaments they entered. The Bruin pair was ranked 18th in the preseason rankings, released in September, but was considered the top doubles team in the nation heading into National Indoors because the ITA releases preseason rankings in early September, but does not release another set of rankings until after the conclusion of the fall season, in December. The top seed at the National Indoor Championships is considered to be the top team in the country at that time since the tournament features the best players in college tennis.
“Any time you beat the No. 1 team in the country, it is exciting,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss. “This was definitely an indication of all the hard work Casey and Javy have put in. Their ability to break serve has become a potent weapon and it has been gratifying to see their improvement over the course of the fall.”
Earlier in the day, Smith and Taborga beat Tulsa’s team of Dane McGregor and Shri Sudhakar 8-2 in first-round action. The Irish seniors are now 15-3 in doubles this fall, including four victories over doubles teams ranked in the top 30 nationally. Smith and Taborga have won 10 of their last 11 matches.
The Notre Dame team will take on Southern Methodist’s Johan Brunstrom and Eric Cohn Friday at 6:30 p.m. in semifinal action. Brunstrom was a member of the doubles team that won the title at last year’s National Indoor Championships. The other semifinal features Oliver Maiberger and Ryan Redondo of San Diego State taking on Baylor’s Marcus Hornung and Rainer Neurohr. The final is slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The first day of the National Indoor Championships proved to be a day of upsets, as all three seeded doubles teams fell in the quarterfinals.
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.
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 National Indoor Championships date back to 1978 and were played in February of each season and sponsored by Rolex until this year.
Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships
#34 Casey Smith/Javier Taborga (ND) d. Dane McGregor/Shri Sudhakar (Tulsa) 8-2
#34 Smith/Taborga (ND) d. (1) #18 Marcin Matkowski/Jean-Julien Rojer (UCLA) 8-6
Note: Numbers in parentheses indicate tournament seeding. Numbers preceding names are ITA national rankings.