Vanderbilt rounded out his non-conference schedule with victories over Wofford and Belmont on Sunday.
After three straight wins earlier in the month, the No. 21 Vanderbilt Commodores returned to the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville to complete their non-conference schedule on Feb. 27. Vanderbilt continued to impress early in the season, improving to 8-1 on the season with a 6-1 win over Wofford and a 7-0 sweep of the Belmont Tigers. With their only loss of the young season ahead at the No. 6 California Golden Bears, the Commodores look to be shaping up to be an impressive team heading into SEC play starting this weekend.
The Commodores started the day strong, securing the doubles point with two quick 6-1 wins. Junior Dasha Kourkina and graduate student MaryAnn Rompf took care of business on Court No. 3, while Anna Ross and Yufei Long beat Wofford’s top pair on Court No. 1 to earn the point for the Commodores . Kourkina and Rompf extended their winning streak to three and remained undefeated as a doubles duo enters conference play next week. Despite a steady rotation of different doubles pairings early in the season, the Commodores have managed to secure the doubles point in eight of their nine matches this season.
“Primarily, it comes down to having fairly versatile players. Especially with the quarantine procedures, we always tell them that they have to be able to play with anyone,” said head coach Aleke Tsoubanos. “Our players have done a great job of rolling with their partner. It gives us options as a coaching staff.
Moving on to the singles courts, Vanderbilt continued to control the game and quickly clinched the decisive fourth point. Kourkina and junior Marcella Cruz both came out and dominated their Wofford opponents, both winning their matches 6-0, 6-0 and putting Vanderbilt one point away from claiming the overall win for the opener of their programs. double.
Attention turned to singles court No. 2, where Anessa Lee had won the first set of her match in a big way, 6-1. In the end, despite a comeback attempt from Wofford’s Liz Massie, Lee won the second set 6-3, winning her individual match and giving the Commodores their seventh win of the season. Lee’s victory took her singles record to 7-1 this season, posting early season dominance for the runner-up who climbed to 92nd in the national singles rankings.
“[Lee]is just a tough competitor. We talk about her a lot – she’s a very reliable player with a lot of courage,” Tsoubanos said. “Even when she doesn’t have her best assets, she is still very good at making it difficult for her opponent and playing tennis with few mistakes.”
Despite trailing 3-1 in the first set, rookie Amy Stevens battled back to win her match 6-3, 6-4, earning her fifth singles victory of the season and extending the Commodores’ winning streak on the day to six matches. The closest match of the day took place on singles court No. 6, where Rompf was in a close match. She managed to win the first set in a close tie-break, 7-6(5), before outscoring her opponent in the second set, 6-4, to earn Vanderbilt’s sixth point of the day. At the Commodores, the only defeat of the day, Ross had lost the first set on the singles court n°1, 6-4, before being forced to retire before the start of the second set. In the end, the Commodores came out of their first game of the day nearly undefeated and with a convincing team victory.
After a short break between games, the Commodores came out strong against Belmont and didn’t look back. Starting in the doubles matches, Kourkina and Rompf were once again successful on the No. 3 court, knocking out their Bruin counterparts. Cruz and Long fell to a 5-1 deficit in their game but managed to come back strong to pull off an incredible comeback and secure the doubles point for the Commodores in a 7-6(2) win.
In singles play, the Commodores dominated like never before, not losing a single game en route to a Bruins sweep. Cruz, who lost just one game between the two matches, gave the Commodores a 2-0 lead with a dominating 6-0, 6-1 victory to cap off his fantastic day. Stevens won his match on the No. 4 field shortly after, before Lee and Kourkina won their matches 6-0, 6-4 to push the Commodores to a 5-0 lead.
After losing her first set, 4-6, Long showed great resilience on the No. 2 singles court to win the second set 6-3 and dominate the third set tiebreak, 10-4, to earn the Commodores their sixth point of the afternoon. . In the final game of the afternoon, Rompf easily won their match, 6-2, 6-1, to secure the sweep for Vanderbilt.
With a fantastic start to the season behind them, the Commodores will kick off conference play this weekend with games in Auburn and Alabama. Despite the early season success, Tsoubanos was quick to make sure the Commodores weren’t looking too far ahead.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge of playing against a very good opponent on Friday and not looking beyond that,” Tsoubanos said.