Mississippi State teammates reach men's clay-court final Meeting is 1st of significance for No. 2 Dupre, No. 7 Ballay

September 29, 1996|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

For Thomas Dupre and Matt Ballay, it was a common greeting: Fancy meeting you here.

Frenchmen both, and teammates at Mississippi State, No. 2 seed Dupre will play No. 7 Ballay today for the title in the T. Rowe Price National Intercollegiate Clay Court Championships at the Suburban Club.

Their match will follow the women's final (No. 5 Lauren Nikolaus of William and Mary vs. No. 8 Kati Kocsis of UCLA), which will begin today at 9 a.m.

Dupre and Ballay have never played each other when it meant anything.

Not in their native France, not in a tournament in this country, not even for the No. 1 spot at Mississippi State.

It's not uncommon in college tennis for the coach to pick his No. 1 and No. 2 without a challenge match. Dupre is No. 1 by decree of coach Andy Jackson.

"Most of the time in practice I beat him, but it's never been important because the coach decides who's No. 1," Dupre said after his 6-1, 6-3 semifinal win over Kentucky's Ludde Sundin.

"Knowing each other so well, it may be harder for us to play here."

Ballay agreed: "Practicing with him every day makes it more difficult to play him when hit counts. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try very hard."

Ballay and Dupre are the first teammates to meet in the final of an Intercollegiate Tennis Association grand slam event since Texas' Chad Clark defeated Ian Williams for the 1993 All-American tournament title.

In the clay-court event's nine-year history, two other Mississippi State men, Daniel Courcol in 1992 and Laurent Orsini in 1993, reached the final.

With his 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ignacio Hirigoyen, Ballay ended the Cinderella run of the SMU sophomore from Argentina.

Hirigoyen has stormed through the qualifying with 11 straight wins over seven days.

"It's been a great week," Hirigoyen said.

"This is the first day I've actually felt physically tired. Ballay simply didn't miss."

Hirigoyen is the Kocsis of 1996. Last year Kocsis, then a Southern Mississippi freshman from Hungary, won eight straight in the qualifying matches to reach the quarterfinals before losing.

Now at UCLA, Kocsis has advanced two rounds farther this year with four fewer wins.

"It's a lot easier starting in the main draw," said Kocsis, who ousted No. 2 Vicky Maes in yesterday's semifinals, 6-3, 7-6 (13-11).

"It was a tough match, and I'm really proud I won it, because I knew she'd be good."

Men's singles

Semifinals

Matt Ballay (7), Mississippi State, def. Ignacio Hirigoyen, Southern Methodist, 6-1, 6-3. Thomas Dupre (2), Mississippi State, def. Ludde Sundin, Kentucky, 6-1, 6-3.

Men's doubles

Quarterfinals

John James and Claes Westlin, South Alabama, def. Anthony DeLuise and Fred Niemeyer (2), Middle Tennessee State, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.

Semifinals

Tim Critchon and Tom Hamilton, Arkansas, def. Ashley Fisher and Jason Weir-Smith (1), Texas Christian, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. John James and Claes Westlin, South Alabama, def. Mark Loughrin and B.J. Stearns (4), Texas, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-2.

Women's singles

Semifinals

Lauren Nikolaus (5), Williams & Mary, def. Baili Camino, Alabama, 6-2, 6-3. Kati Kocsis (8), UCLA, def. Vicky Maes (2), Arizona, 6-3, 7-6 (13-11).

Women's doubles

Quarterfinals

Laura Olave and Suzanna Rodriguez, LSU, def. Margie Lepsi and Manisha Malhotra (3), Tennessee, 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (7-3).

Semifinals

Kylie Hunt and Christina Sim, Kansas, def. Veronica Goude and Marianne Vallin, UNLV, 6-4, 6-3. Laura Olave and Suzanna Rodriguez, LSU, def. Courtenay Chapman and Agnes Muzamel, Mississippi, 6-3, 6-0.

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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