Commodores crowned SEC Regular Season Champions

April 14, 2018

Final Stats

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. --The third-ranked Vanderbilt women's tennis team leaves Gainesville, Fla. on Saturday with a 4-3 comeback victory over No. 10 Florida.

The Commodores also return to Nashville with something even sweeter: their second straight SEC regular season championship.

Saturday's victory was no easy feat, as the Commodores were forced to power back into the top-10 matchup from a 3-1 deficit. Junior Summer Dvorak came through for the Commodore clinch in a performance that Vanderbilt tennis won't soon forget.

With the victory, the Commodores finish atop the SEC standings, boasting a 19-3 overall record and 12-1 SEC mark.

"It was unbelievable," said head coach Geoff Macdonald. "We were down 3-1 and kept our poise as well as we ever have. We were just really tough. What Summer [Dvorak] did to come back in that match, the poise and the mental toughness -- I've been around tennis my whole life, and it was one of the most impressive and brave performances I've seen from a player. I just take my hat off to these young people, wow!"

Vanderbilt came out on fire in doubles play, taking courts three then two in dominant 6-1 victories.

Fernanda Contreras and Dvorak were first off the court for the black and gold for the second match in a row, powering past UF's Peggy Porter and Katie Kubicz for the first 6-1 win. The duo of Contreras and Dvorak have given up only one game on the weekend and three games over the month of April.

Playing at No. 2 doubles, Christina Rosca and Amanda Meyer earned Vanderbilt the clinch, which proved to be vital to the team's overall score. Meyer/Rosca downed Josie Kuhlman and McCartney Kessler 6-1. The victory was the pairing's seventh straight win, a streak dating back to the squad's victory over Tennessee.

With the point advantage in the Commodores' possession, momentum shifted in singles play as the Gators steadily gained first-set advantages on five of the six courts.

The Gators' Victoria Emma was first off the court in individual play, leveling the match score to 1-all following a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Emma Kurtz. Meyer suffered a ranked loss against UF's No. 94 Kessler. Playing high in the lineup at the No. 3 singles position, the freshman fought hard throughout the second set, but was defeated, 6-1, 6-4.

No. 13 Anna Danilina extended the Florida lead to 3-1, taking the last straight-set match of the day over No. 6 Contreras, 7-5, 6-1. The loss was Contreras' third of the dual season and fourth-ever SEC loss in her three seasons.

Just as Emily Smith forced a third set on court six, momentum began to shift in the Commodores' favor in the remaining matches. At 3-all in the third, Smith held tough at the No. 6 singles position and used that palpable momentum to begin the Commodores' process of chipping away at Florida's lead. The Commodore from Birmingham, England earned Vandy its first singles win of the day, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Rosca was the lone Commodore to claim her first set, 6-1, however No. 45 Kuhlman flipped the switch to take a 6-1 set of her own and force a third-set decider. With the Gator up 2-0, Rosca found her footing and built up an offensive strategy that Kuhlman could not control, taking four straight games for the victory 6-1, 1-6, 6-2.

At No. 5 singles, Florida's senior Peggy Porter escaped with UF's final first set lead, taking a tiebreaker over Dvorak, 7-6(3). The Commodore junior fought back in the second set to force a third set, 6-3. Porter owned a two break point lead at 4-1 in the third and final set, however it was not enough to silence Dvorak. Gritting her teeth and vying for each and every point, the junior took five straight games to clinch Vanderbilt's second straight SEC regular season title, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

"We try to keep it light heading into all of our matches," said Macdonald. "Everyone knew today was an important match, it didn't need to be said. Our players knew what they were doing, and all we have to do as coaches is trust them and support them. I'm blown away at the toughness of this team."

Vanderbilt heads into next week's SEC Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the draw. This season's tournament will be hosted by the University of Tennessee. The full SEC Tournament bracket will be released by the league office Sunday evening.



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