April 19, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The hole was just a little bit to deep for the Commodores come out of as the 15th-ranked Florida Gators cut the Vanderbilt rally short to advance the 2014 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament Championship. The Commodores' SEC Tournament run came to an end Saturday evening, falling by a score of 4-2.
Vanderbilt (16-10) will await the announcement of the NCAA regional sites, likely sitting right on the cusp of getting the opportunity to host.
"I told the guys I was proud of them," said Vanderbilt head coach Ian Duvenhage. "We got edged here by a team that played a little better than we did, and we also put ourselves in the hole a little bit with the doubles point."
"It's asking a lot to beat a team of their caliber twice in a row by winning four singles matches. I was proud of our guys, I thought we competed like crazy and it was close there at the end. We just came up a little short."
The Commodores didn't come out with the same intensity they had in their previous two wins, falling early in doubles.
The Gators would cruise to two quick 8-4 wins at No. 3 and the clincher at No. 2 to claim the doubles point and hold the early advantage.
Despite dropping the doubles point, all was not lost for the Commodores, who have came back after dropping the crucial point just a week ago against they same Gator team.
However in singles play, Vanderbilt dropped four first sets on courts three through six to make things a lot tougher.
Florida jumped to a quick 3-0 advantage winning in straight sets on both five and three. Kris Yee fell at No. 3 singles to Maxx Lipman, just one week after clinching the match for the Commodores against UF in that same position.
With the hole dug, Vanderbilt needed to start chipping away at the lead and that came with two straight set wins of their own at the top two positions.
With the score at 3-2 in favor of the Gators both Ryan Smith at six and Rhys Johnson at four earned clutch splits to extend the match and bring a little more momentum back on the side of the Commodores.
Smith was the first to a third set and stayed on serve with Florida senior Mike Alford nearly the whole set. It wasn't until the 12th game that Smith got broken, clinching the match for the Gators.
The freshman Smith had fended off multiple match points serving 4-5 extend the match, but he couldn't hang on in the final game, ending the Commodore's run in the SEC Tournament.
Johnson went unfinished, leading 2-1 in the final set.
#15 Florida 4, #23 Vanderbilt 2
1. #59 Ryan Lipman (VU) def. #70 Florent Diep (UF) 6-2, 6-4
2. #24 Gonzales Austin (VU) def. #99 Gordon Watson (UF) 6-3, 6-4
3. Maxx Lipman (UF) def. Kris Yee (VU) 6-2, 6-0
4. Rhys Johnson (VU) vs. Diego Hidalgo (UF) 3-6, 6-1, 2-1, unfinished
5. Elliot Orkin (UF) def. Suresh Eswaran (VU) 6-3, 6-3
6. Mike Alford (UF) def. Ryan Smith (VU) 6-1, 2-6, 7-5
1. #5 Gonzales Austin/Ryan Lipman (VU) vs. #29 Florent Diep/Gordon Watson (UF) 2-7, unfinished
2. Maxx Lipman/Elliot Orkin (UF) def. Rhys Johnson/Pen Binet (VU) 8-4
3. Mike Alford/Diego Hidalgo (UF) def. Ryan Smith/Suresh Eswaran (VU) 8-4
Florida 15-8, 8-4 SEC; National ranking #15
Vanderbilt 16-10, 5-7 SEC; National ranking #23
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (5,3,1,2,6)
SEC Tournament Semifinals
Official: Anthony Montero