Vanderbilt cruises past Auburn in SEC Tourney opener
April 17, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 23 Vanderbilt men's tennis team will continue on in the 2014 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament after defeating No. 9 seed Auburn, 4-0, Thursday night. The Commodores will face top-seeded Georgia in Friday's quarterfinals at 3 p.m.
It was the same outcome, but a completely different route for Vanderbilt, which improved to 15-9, in its win over the Tigers on Thursday. After winning 4-3 in a match that nearly took five hours last time in Auburn, the Commodores cruised to their first shutout win since its 7-0 win over Arkansas in the SEC opener.
"We talked a lot after our loss against South Carolina about the importance of being ready to play right from the get go, and I thought our guys did a really job today," said head coach Ian Duvenhage. "The guys responded to the challenge that, we, the coaches gave them, which is to really play from the first point on. Doubles really set the tone for that, and I thought we came out in singles again, and we were ready from the get go. When you do that, you get momentum on your side. So I thought we did a good job."
After a disappointing loss to South Carolina to close the regular season, Vanderbilt came out with a sense of urgency in doubles.
The Commodores had their No. 1 and No. 3 teams closing in on the clinch, but it was fifth-ranked Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman who picked up two late breaks to secure the doubles point. Thursday marked the 12th time this season the Commodores have earned the doubles point, they improve to 11-1 in those matches.
Singles play was no different for Vanderbilt, as they came out to win four of six first sets.
Suresh Eswaran came out quickly winning in straight sets to put the Commodores up 2-0. Eswaran opened up with a 6-0 win in the first set before taking the match 6-2 in the second over Auburn's Petar Tomic.
Johnson continued the momentum for Vanderbilt as he picked up another win in straight sets to set up the clinching point. Johnson earned the break in the ninth game of the second set to go up 5-4 before serving for the match.
In his first match at No. 2 singles since February 23, No. 24 Austin got all he could handle for Auburn's Dan Cochrane in the first set. No. 64 Cochrane got the first break of the match to go up 4-2, but Austin answered with a break of his own to get the match back on serve.
The two would trade served until Austin forced a tiebreak at 6-all. In the breaker, Austin picked up a mini-break late to win it, 8-6.
After getting broken on his first serve in the second set, the Miami native took control, breaking on Cochrane's serve in the eighth game to clinch the shutout for the Commodores.
"I don't think I was hitting the ball well throughout the first set," Austin said. "I was mentally prepared to battle, whatever came my way I was ready to deal with. Some of my forehands weren't falling and that's always frustrating, but I just stayed with it.
"I just held serve throughout and, in the breaker, I just looked for my opportunities and went after it. In the second set, I just started playing a lot better. I just started moving way better. I saw the other courts getting off and I decided to try to get that clinch in there."
The Commodores and Bulldogs will meet up for the second time this season on Friday. The first matchup, in Athens, Ga., ended 4-0 in favor of the Bulldogs.
"They're really good. They're really tough at every position," said Austin on the top-seeded Georgia. "They expect to win all the time, and that's something that you can't really take away from them. When we played them, we were close in doubles and close in a lot of matches in singles. I think the difference is going to be that we're at home and we've got the energy here. They're really solid but we have all the talent we need to get through that one."
Complete coverage of the 2014 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament can be found by visiting VUCommodores.com. For live coverage of the matches, visit the SEC Tournament Central also located on the Vanderbilt Athletics homepage or follow @SECMTennis on twitter.
#23 Vanderbilt 4, #40 Auburn 0
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