April 18, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In front of a crowd of 500+ at the Currey Tennis Center, the 23rd-ranked Vanderbilt men's tennis team stunned No. 9 Georgia, 4-2, to advance to the semifinals of the 2014 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament. The win was Vanderbilt's first over the Bulldogs since 2004.
"There was just a great team effort all the way around. That was one of the most professional matches I've ever seen played in my nine years here," said Vanderbilt head coach Ian Duvenhage. "That was one of the best tennis match I've ever coached. From the get-go in doubles, we competed well, we had great attitudes. In singles, ditto. If we were to give out game balls there were so many to be given today."
Vanderbilt (16-9) will face either Florida or LSU in Saturday's semifinal match set for 2 p.m. CT.
The momentum of the match went back and forth between the Commodores and Bulldogs from the first point played.
Vanderbilt notched the first doubles win of the day with an 8-3 win from Rhys Johnson and Pen Binet at the No. 2 position. Georgia would quickly knot doubles up at 1-all with an 8-5 win at No. 3, to bring all eyes on No. 1.
The matchup of No. 5 Ryan Lipman and Gonzales Austin against No. 7 Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland did not disappoint. After trading breaks to open the match, both teams held serve until the tiebreak at 6-all.
In the breaker Lipman and Austin locked in, jumping to an early 5-1 lead at the changeover. With the breaker at 6-2, UGA sent a Lipman return long and the Commodores clinched the doubles point with an 8-7 (2) win at No. 1.
Both teams came out with a lot of intensity in singles, playing some very long and competitive points.
Despite having the momentum after doubles, Georgia was able to take five of six first sets from the Dores, and looked to be in control.
The Bulldogs knotted the match up at 1-all when No. 20 Austin Smith knocked off Lipman in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5. Shortly after UGA would go up a point as Nick Wood pulled off the 7-6 (8), 6-1 win at No. 5 over Suresh Eswaran. Eswaran worked through numerous match points from Wood in the first set breaker, before falling 10-8.
With the match at 2-1 in favor of the Bulldogs something seemed to change. The Commodores played their points more competitively and showed more emotion on the court which seemed to change the momentum.
The lone first set win of the day for the Commodores came at No. 2 where Austin beat Nathan Pasha 7-3 in the breaker. With three matches headed to third sets, Austin needed to win to keep the momentum flowing for the Dores.
After a long tiebreak, and multiple set points for both players, Austin was able to win it in straight sets, taking the second set tiebreak 12-10.
Austin's win at No. 2 brought the match to 2-all, with Vanderbilt leading on all three of the remaining courts.
The freshman Smith stepped up in a big way in his final set, breaking on all of Hernus Pieters' service games. Despite getting broken on his first three serves, Smith was able to hold on the final two, to set up the clinch for Vanderbilt with a 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 win over the former All-American.
With Vandy up 3-2, Johnson was serving for his match, and the clinch at No. 4. After a short rally UGA's Ben Wagland sent his return long, giving Johnson the 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 win at the No. 4 position.
The Commodores will play in the SEC Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2003. That year Vanderbilt won the SEC Tournament, and went on to finish as runner up in the NCAA Tournament.
#23 Vanderbilt 4, #9 Georgia 2
1. #20 Austin Smith (UGA) def. #59 Ryan Lipman (VU) 6-1, 7-5
2. #24 Gonzales Austin (VU) def. #31 Nathan Pasha (UGA) 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (12-10)
3. #83 Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) vs. Kris Yee (VU) 7-5, 2-6, 1-3, unfinished
4. Rhys Johnson (VU) def. #77 Ben Wagland (UGA) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
5. Nick Wood (UGA) def. Suresh Eswaran (VU) 7-6 (10-8), 6-1
6. Ryan Smith (VU) def. Hernus Pieters (UGA) 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
1. #5 Gonzales Austin/Ryan Lipman (VU) def. #7 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UGA) 8-7 (7-2)
2. Rhys Johnson/Pen Binet (VU) def. Garrett Brasseaux/Nathan Pasha (UGA) 8-3
3. Eric Diaz/Austin Smith (UGA) def. Ryan Smith/Suresh Eswaran (VU) 8-5
Vanderbilt 16-9, 5-7 SEC; National ranking #23
Georgia 16-7, 11-1 SEC; National ranking #9
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (1,5,2,6,4)
2014 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament
Quarterfinal Match - No. 1 seed vs. No. 8 seed
Official: Anthony Montero