Feb. 21, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt has spent the first month of the season on the road and at neutral sites playing some of the top teams in women's tennis. Finally on Friday, the Commodores got to play at home, but it didn't mean that the competition level wouldn't remain high.
Head Coach Geoff Macdonald has made it a point to annually play one of the most challenging schedules in college tennis, and this season hasn't disappointed. All nine of Vanderbilt's opponents have been ranked in the top 32 with Friday's opponent, Memphis, ranking the lowest.
With Nashville at least temporarily experiencing spring-like weather, the 12th-ranked Commodores were greeted by a good crowd, which they rewarded with a 4-0 sweep of the Tigers to improve to 6-3 on the season. Memphis dropped to 6-3 with the loss.
The match appeared to be shaping up to be much closer, as Memphis built an early lead in five of the six singles matches. However, the Commodores rallied to claim three opening sets in singles, and took control of the match from that point on.
"This was a really good Memphis team," Macdonald said. "We know they are good and they are so talented, and they play really offensive tennis. We were down early on nearly every court except for on Frances' (Altick). We had to hang in there and show very good poise when down and we didn't go away."
A key portion of the match came at No. 1 singles, where Georgina Sellyn trailed Stefanie Mikesz, 4-1 and 5-2 in the first set, only to rally to win the set 7-5 and eventually the match, 6-1, in the second set.
"You go down a set there and all of a sudden you go down four first sets and the match can turn against you," Macdonald added. "But one of the reasons we play such a hard schedule is that you have to learn how to battle through and you don't face that when you play easy competition."
Sellyn's point gave Vanderbilt a 3-0 lead in the match.
After winning the doubles point, Vanderbilt took a 2-0 lead in the match when Frances Altick defeated Skylar Kuykendall, 6-0, 6-2, at the No. 2 singles position.
Clinching Vanderbilt's sixth win of the season was Marie Casares. Casares defeated Alyssa Hibberd, 7-6(3), 6-2, at the No. 4 position. The remaining matches went unfinished with Vanderbilt leading in the third set at Nos. 3 and 6 and trailing at No. 5 in the second set after also losing the first.
Vanderbilt took a 1-0 lead in the match by easily claiming all three doubles matches. Memphis won no more than three games in all three matches with the Commodores winning 8-3, 8-3 and 8-2 at the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 doubles positions.
"I had a feeling we were better than them in doubles," Macdonald admitted. "We got that point, but that kind of lulls you into a funny false sense of security where you think you are better. We were down on five of six courts and I'm really pleased with the comebacks."
Casares and Antal won the first doubles match, 8-3, at the No. 2 position over Mikesz and Wind. The duo led 4-1 before Memphis won two straight games to make it close. VU took the next four games.
Clinching the doubles point was the No. 1 duo of Colton and Mira, who defeated Hibberd and Wegner, 8-3. The match was knotted at 3-3 before Vanderbilt pulled away.
Minutes after clinching the doubles point, VU's duo of Altick and Sellyn won 8-2 over Morga and Kuykendall.
Vanderbilt will be at home again on Sunday against another challenging opponent. The Commodores will host No. 26 Pepperdine (4-2) at 1 p.m. at the Currey Tennis Center.
Honoring Billy Adair Sunday
Anyone who has attended Vanderbilt's men's or women's tennis matches with any regularity through the years is certain to have known who Billy Adair was. He was a staple at Vanderbilt's matches, always watching, smiling and cheering the Commodores to victory.
Sadly, Adair lost his life to melanoma cancer earlier this week. On Sunday, Vanderbilt will honor Adair with a moment of silence before its match against Pepperdine at 1 p.m.
Adair worked at Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music and was well known in Nashville's jazz community. He led the Blair Big Band at Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music and wore numerous hats, including being a musician, producer, teacher and director. You can learn more about Adair, by clicking here to read an article in the Tennessean.
"He came to every one of our matches and it was hard today to look up, and I know where he likes to watch matches, and not see him there," Macdonald said. "We are certainly thinking of him and we want to honor him on Sunday."
No. 12 Vanderbilt 4, No. 32 Memphis 0
Feb. 21, 2014
Currey Tennis Center
No. 1) Colton/Mira (VU) def. #38 Hibberd/Wegner (UM), 8-3
No. 2) Casares/Antal (VU) Mikesz/Wind (UM), 8-3
No. 3 Altick/Sellyn (VU) Morga/Kuykendall (UM), 8-2
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3
No. 1) #48 Georgina Sellyn (VU) def. #99T Stefanie Mikesz (UM), 7-5, 6-1
No. 2) Frances Altick (VU) def. Skylar Kuykendall (UM), 6-0, 6-2
No. 3) #124 Courtney Colton (VU) vs. Caroline Wegner (UM), 4-6, 6-0, 2-0, unfinished
No. 4) Marie Casares (VU) def. Alyssa Hibberd (UM), 7-6(3), 6-2
No. 5) Ashleigh Antal (VU) Anki Wind (UM), 6-7, 3-5, unfinished
No. 6 Lauren Mira (VU) Marta Morga (UM), 4-6, 6-3, 1-0, unfinished
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 4