Jan. 2, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The first ITA College Tennis team rankings of the 2014 season were released late Thursday, with the Commodores debuting at No. 16. In addition, five members of the Vanderbilt men's tennis team were named in the singles and doubles rankings.
After coming off a Sweet 16 appearance in 2013 -- its highest finish at NCAA's in nine seasons -- the VU men's team will open 2014 season at No. 16. This is the highest rank to open the season since 2009 when the `Dores were No. 27.
"As a team the No. 16 ranking is a great starting point," said Vanderbilt assistant coach Jamie Hunt. "With our strong schedule we will have plenty of opportunities for wins that will help us improve on that ranking."
Nine of the 13 teams from the Southeastern Conference will begin 2014 in the top 20, led by the Georgia Bulldogs at No. 3. Tennessee (6), Kentucky (9), Ole Miss (11), Texas A&M (12), Mississippi State (14), Florida (15) and South Carolina (18), LSU (24), Auburn (28), Alabama (33) and Arkansas (58) round out the rest of the conference.
After a stellar fall season, Vanderbilt junior Gonzales Austin will open 2014 at No. 9 in the singles rankings. Austin finished the fall with a 12-4 record, making a semifinal run at the ITA All-American Championships and a quarterfinal run USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.
Sophomore Rhys Johnson moved up 14 spots to No. 57 after a 12-4 fall, and wins over two ranked opponents. Johnson made it all the way to the ITA Ohio Valley Regional semifinals, before falling to No. 24 Hunter Reese.
After opening the preseason at No. 13, the doubles team of Ryan Lipman and Austin jumped 11 spots to No. 2 in the polls. The duo went 10-2 in the fall, winning the SEC Fall Classic and making it to the finals of the Southern Intercollegiate Championships.
""It is nice to see AJ [Austin] in the top 10 in singles and doubles. Rhys also had a strong fall so its good to see him in the top 60. Having both a singles player and doubles team in the top 10 is great, and shows the direction this program is headed."
The men open the spring season on January 19 with a doubleheader against Marquette and Belmont. The Commodores will then host Texas, Wake Forest and LSU at the ITA National Kick-off Weekend beginning on January 25.