April 8, 2012
Vanderbilt's two seniors ended their home-court Commodore careers with big wins against No. 10 Mississippi State, despite the 4-3 loss to the Bulldogs.
"I could not even come up with something to criticize them on if I even wanted to," said Head Coach Ian Duvenhage, praising his player's tenacity on the courts.
Senior Alex DiValerio got a big doubles win with partner Gonzales Austin over the No. 32 pair of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp, beating the Bulldogs.
Blake Bazarnik and Jeff Offerdahl staged a comeback on court two, battling their way back from a 5-2 deficit to make it 5-5, but wound up losing the next three points to fall 8-5 to the No. 43 pair of Coupland and Ilyushin. The Bulldogs clinched the doubles point with an 8-6 win over Charlie Jones and Joe Dorn.
Trailing 1-0, the Dores came out swinging in singles, playing some of their best tennis against the No. 10 team in the country.
Three of the Dores' first sets went to tie-break, as Jones, Austin, and Kovrigin battled their opponents for points. Coupland bested Kovrigin with an 8-6 breaker, but Jones topped #15 Ilyushin 7-5 for the 7-6 first set, and Austin defeated Chaudry for the first set.
Dorn played a smart match, coming back after dropping his first set 6-1 to win. He defeated Zach White 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to tie the match at 1-1.
No. 44 Cant defeated Jeff Offerdahl 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 to put the Bulldogs up 2-1, but Austin picked up the win on court two, defeating Chaudry 7-6, 7-5 to tie the match back again at 2-2.
Kovrigin stayed alive as he battled in his second tie-breaker set against Coupland, winning it 7-6 (7-2) as the Bulldogs pulled ahead 3-2 with a win over Bazarnik on court three.
Jones tied the match back up with a huge three-set win over Ilyushin, capping his career home appearances with a 7-6, 2-6, 6-4 victory, with the crowd clapping and cheering along for the senior.
The match came down to court five, where Kovrigin and Coupland were locked 4-4 in their third set. Kovrigin put up a fight, but No. 44 Coupland topped the Commodore in the end, taking the next two games for the match.
"If there are 100 things about a match that you can evaluate, then 99 things that we did out there today were overwhelmingly positive," said Duvenhage."The only thing that wasn't was the result. So I'm really proud of the way they competed and they've done that all year long. We're so close to the tipping point that when we get over the hump, we're going to be a difficult team to beat."
Vanderbilt wraps up their regular season with a match against Kentucky at 1pm in Lexington.