Jan. 21, 2011
After a successful fall that saw many victories in every tournament, the Vanderbilt men's tennis team is ready to tackle the spring. In his sixth season as the head coach of the Commodores, Ian Duvenhage is ready for his team to be one of the best.
"I thought the fall went very well," said Duvenhage. "I thought we had a lot of guys who played really good tennis, and now we're ready to get into the spring and see what we can do."
Through the fall, the senior class of Adam Baker, Andy Pulido, Bryant Salcedo and Alex Zotov combined for 21 victories. Zotov won five consecutive matches in the Southern Intercollegiates to begin the fall, and closed out with an appearance in the championship match of the Crimson Tide Invitational.
The junior class also played well throughout the fall tournament season. Alex DiValerio picked up six victories and a consolation flight championship at the Crimson Tide Invite. Charlie Jones posted seven wins, including three at the Southern Intercollegiates.
Although Lipman essentially took a break from tennis for three months over the summer, he came back in the fall and posted 10 wins, including four each in the Southern Intercollegiates and the ITA Ohio Valley Regional. Lipman looks to build on a stellar freshman season that saw him earn Co-SEC Freshman of the Year honors and the ITA Ohio Valley Conference Rookie of the Year.
"Ryan had a solid fall," said Duvenhage. I was actually really happy with how he played because he didn't play any tournaments during the summer. We made strength training and getting into the weight room four days a week a priority for him."
Blake Bazarnik, the lone freshman on the team, posted an 8-4 record in his first collegiate tournament season. He advanced to the quarterfinal round of the ITA Ohio Valley Regional and the semifinals of the Crimson Tide Invitational.
"I think Blake surprised us a little bit," said Duvenhage. "He did some things in the fall that we didn't think he was capable of and he did it sooner than we expected."
Despite playing in one of the toughest tennis conferences in the country, the Commodores will face tough non-conference opponents this season. After opening the season against local teams Tennessee Tech and Lipscomb, the 'Dores travel to Palo Alto, Calif. to play in the ITA Kick-off Weekend. Vanderbilt is slated to play No. 42 Nebraska in the first round match and will face either No. 8 Stanford or No. 54 Santa Clara the next day.
"I've always believed that if you want to be the best, you have to play the best," commented Duvenhage. "I've been accused of over scheduling on occasion but our goal is to be one of the premier men's tennis programs in the country. If we can go out and win the Kick-Off Weekend, it would be a great opportunity for our program to come of age."
Also on the non-conference slate for the 'Dores are No. 26 Washington, No. 25 Michigan, No. 59 Northwestern, No. 46 Indiana, and No. 20 North Carolina. All 12 SEC teams enter the season ranked in the Top 70, with Tennessee leading the conference at No. 3. While defeating every opponent may seem like a tall task, Duvenhage believes his team is capable of just that.
"Of course my goal is to win every match," commented Duvenhage. "But our whole philosophy is more process oriented than results oriented. It's not that we're not interested in the results, because we are, but we know that it's the actual process that leads to results. We spend a lot of time making sure that our process is good and sound."