April 16, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 23 Vanderbilt men's tennis team will open play at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Tournament against 40th-ranked Auburn, Thursday at 3 p.m. from the Currey Tennis Center. Vanderbilt is the host school of the five-day conference tournament which began play on Wednesday.
Vanderbilt earned the eighth overall seed in the tournament after finishing with a 5-7 record in conference play. The Commodores enter the SEC Tournament coming off a weekend split with Florida and South Carolina. On Friday the Dores knocked off No. 15 Florida 4-3, before falling to the Gamecocks in the regular season finale.
"Getting a chance to host this tournament and play at home is a great opportunity for us," said Vanderbilt head coach Ian Duvenhage. "We know we're playing a good team, and even though we beat them earlier in the year we know they want to get even with us. "
The Commodores will begin play against Auburn, who earned the ninth seed in the tournament after finishing with a record of 4-8 in the SEC. The Tigers come into Nashville on a seven-match losing streak after starting SEC play with a 4-1 record.
Vanderbilt earned a thrilling 4-3 win against Auburn on the road during the regular season. After winning the doubles point, Ryan Lipman clinched the match at No. 2 singles in a match that last north of three hours. After splitting the first two sets, Lipman won the third and deciding set 7-6 (5) after over an hour and a half of play.
The Commodores are 3-8 in SEC Tournament play under Duvenhage. In his previous eight seasons at the helm, Vanderbilt has yet to earn an SEC semifinal bid.
Vanderbilt has captured one SEC Tournament title since the conference went to the team tournament format in 1990. The Commodores won it all in 2003, defeating top-seeded Florida 4-0, in Oxford, Miss., after earning the No. 2 overall seed. That season Vanderbilt made it to the NCAA finals, falling 4-3 to Illinois.
This season marks the third time since the team format was introduced that Vanderbilt has acted has the host school. Nashville was also the site of the 1992 and 2004 SEC Tournaments. The Commodores are 0-2 in SEC matches played in the Music City, with losses to Florida and South Carolina.
The winner of Thursday's match is set to play SEC regular season champ, and top seed Georgia in Friday's quarterfinal matchup.
"Our team meeting today was about saving our best tennis for last," said Duvenhage. "Making that happen is a function of intensity and desire, we need to want it more than the guys on the other side of the net."
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.