May 11, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vanderbilt men's tennis team will open NCAA Tournament play in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, May 12, when it faces Notre Dame. The match at Ohio State's Varsity Tennis Courts will begin at 9:00 a.m. CT.
It marks the fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in six years under Head Coach Ian Duvenhage, as well as the program's 11th appearance all-time. The Commodores are 14-10 in NCAA matches and have twice advanced to the Round of 16. The deepest run came to the NCAA Finals in 2003, followed by a quarterfinal appearance in 2004.
The 40th-ranked Commodores will be led into the tournament by a pair of ranked singles players in Charlie Jones and Gonzales Austin. Vanderbilt went 8-15 on the season, including 2-9 in the grueling Southeastern Conference.
Jones is ranked No. 42 in the nation and has posted a singles record of 13-9 this season, all at number one singles. He was named Second Team All-SEC, while also earning the men's tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award.
Austin enters the tournament ranked No. 81 and with a 14-8 record with all but one match at number two singles. He was named to both the All-SEC Second Team and the All-Freshman team.
Vanderbilt also takes a ranked doubles team into the tournament, as Austin and Alex DiValerio were slotted No. 22 in the latest ITA rankings and went 5-4 on the season, including a 3-2 record in SEC play.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 29 in the most recent ITA edition and went 20-8 on the season. Greg Andrews is their top-ranked singles player at No. 57, while Casey Watt is also in the rankings at No. 111. Watt and Niall Fitzgerald combine to form the 55th-ranked doubles pairing in the country.
Head Coach Bobby Bayliss's team is in the NCAA Tournament for the 21st time in the last 22 seasons after going 20-8 and placing third at the BIG EAST Men's Tennis Championships. The Irish went 8-7 against ranked foes on the year.
Duvenhage knows they will provide a tough test.
"Bobby Bayliss has been the coach there forever and is one of the legends of the game," said Duvenhage. "He's a good guy who has run a clean, great program for many years. I know most of their players and my hunch is they know us fairly well."
The Commodore head coach feels the match to watch will come at number two singles, where Austin is expected to face Notre Dame's Greg Andrews. Andrews is 23-3 at the slot on the season, while Austin is 13-8.
"(Andrews) is by far their most successful player, so AJ (Austin) will have his hands full." Duvenhage said. "But I think if AJ plays well, he's going to give us a chance there and if he can win on that, I'd bet on us to win the match."
Duvenhage also feels his team is relaxed and ready to make a run.
"It's good to get there, but it's high time we do some serious damage," Duvenhage said. "Just making it isn't enough. This team has learned that when it goes out and is relaxed, it plays better tennis. I told the guys that this is the best part of the year, it's postseason, so we have to go out and have fun and enjoy what we're doing."
The winner of the match between the Commodores and Fighting Irish will then face the winner of a first round match between fifth-seed Ohio State and East Tennessee State on Sunday, May 13, at 11:00 a.m.