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Vandy opens SEC Tourney with 4-2 win over Auburn

1042 days ago
Vanderbilt Athletics
Photo: Texas A&M Athletics

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The No. 22 Vanderbilt Commodores move on to SEC quarterfinals after rallying in singles action to defeat Auburn 4-2. Heading into Friday's match against No. 13 Ole Miss, the 'Dores look for retribution as the Rebels handed Vandy a tough 4-0 loss.

"We didn't play well in doubles, said head coach Ian Duvenhage, and we didn't play very well at the beginning of the match in singles either. We live to fight another day and tomorrow's matchup is one that we wanted again. We were not happy with the match we played against Ole Miss earlier this year and now we get our opportunity to play them again, and I think the guys will be up for it "

Thursday's match started off rocky as Vanderbilt dropped the doubles point for the third match in a row. Auburn's Hinnisdael/Krickovic hung on to a quick lead to defeat the Commodores second ranked duo of Gonzales Austin and Rhys Johnson; 6-3. Although trying a new doubles combination, the 'Dores continued to struggle at the No. 3 position with Jeffrey Offerdahl and Suresh Eswaran falling to Van Dooren/Saleh; 6-4.

With the 1-0 deficit Vanderbilt had an up-hill battle, which would only be worsened as the 'Dores suffered four first set losses in singles action.

No. 8 Austin suffered his second loss of dual season as the Tigers' No. 85 Lukas Ollert defeated the senior 6-2, 6-4. With the 2-0 Tiger lead the 'Dores needed a shift in momentum which came on court two as Johnson took down No. 122 Krickovic 6-4, 6-4.

"Rhys (Johnson) seemed to be hitting on all cylinders from the get go, but we struggled at three and five early on. It just was a gut check and the guys found a way to turn it around... and Rhys did a great job at turning it around at 1-all by getting off the court in straight sets."

Carrying over momentum from his second set victory, senior Eswaran leveled the score at 2-all with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over AU's Van Dooren. On the verge of being the Commodores fourth court to split, junior Kris Yee pulled out the third Commodore point in a second set tiebreak, handing Saleh his seventh SEC loss; 6-2, 7-6(5).

Dropping his first set 7-6(10) gave freshman Daniel Valent the motivation he needed to cruise though his second set, not allowing Auburn's Hinnisdaels a single game in his 6-0 victory. The Zurich, Switzerland native clinched the Commodore victory and spot in SEC quarterfinals delivering another outstanding performance in the third set coming out on top 6-1.

"Suresh found a way to claw his way back in the match and win in three. Kris did a great job at closing his match out in three sets, which was really big. Danny did a terrific job on three also. I think the big thing for me is that AJ (Austin) didn't have one of his best days and that shows us that we can win a match even if our best player has a tough day. That's got to give us a lot of confidence."