COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Sunday was an absolutely electric day as the Commodores earned their first SEC tournament title with a 4-3 victory over the second seeded Georgia Bulldogs. Sunday's championship appearance was the Commodores third ever, with the first coming in 1996 and then again in 2004. This is the first year that the Commodores have defeated both Florida and Georgia in one season. Playing inside the dry confines of the Carolina Field House, the `Dores came out hot in tandems action sealing the advantageous doubles point on courts one and two. The point would prove pivotal as VU was threated several times in singles action.
No. 25 Courtney Colton and Sydney Campbell put on a solid performance at No. 1, giving VU the first win and a push in the right direction as the duo sailed past No. 19 Herring/Perez; 8-3.
The Commodores' resilience continued one court over as No. 16 Ashleigh Antal and Astra Sharma cemented the doubles point for VU with a battle against the Bulldogs' No. 24 Garcia/Shaffer. Court two hosted a tough match, but the `Dores pulled through 8-6, boasting serves which proved untouchable and commanding returns.
With the doubles point Vandy looked to singles play to complete the upset over No. 6 UGA and bring the hardware back to Music City.
No. 120 Frances Altick registered the first singles win for Vandy, generating mighty returns that proved too much for No. 69 Ellen Perez. The junior from Monroe, La. downed the UGA freshman 6-4, 6-1.
Singles success continued for the `Dores as redshirt freshman No. 41 Astra Sharma conquered No. 93 Garcia, blowing past her 6-2 in the first set, and only allowing the Bulldog just one second set game in her 6-2, 6-1 victory on court two.
Up 3-0, it appeared that VU had the win in the bag, but Sunday's championship match was UGA's fourth in four years and the Dogs were prepared to fight till the last point.
UGA looked to add its first win of the match on court one as an ITA top ten battle ensured between No. 9 Sydney Campbell and No. 7 Lauren Herring. Both players brought physical play to the table, but it was the Bulldog's Herring that would earn the point, defeating Campbell 6-2, 6-4.
The Bulldogs brought in two additional back-to-back wins on courts six and four respectively to force senior Marie Casares to give the performance of a lifetime.
With an open court readily available, Antal cruised through her first set over Hannah King 6-2, but the Bulldog used the loss as momentum mounting a come back which would force a third set; 6-2. Antal fell 6-1 in the third, giving UGA their second point of the match.
After dropping the first set 6-4 at No. four singles, Colton gave a tremendous effort in her second set tiebreaker with Shaffer, which forced a key third set. Although the junior fell 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-3 her third set allowed time for Marie Casares to mount a comeback that would prove very fruitful for the `Dores.
Casares fell 6-3 in the first set, but the Quito, Ecuador native has been a rock for the Commodores through her entire career in the back and gold. With the title on the line, Casares raced back into contention in the second set coming out victorious 6-3. In the matches third and final set the senior would give a performance that few will forget as she delivered several amazing backhand chips that No. 83 Caroline Brinson could only return into the net.
With both Commodores and Bulldogs watching in anticipation a court over, Casares clinched Vanderbilt's first ever-SEC title as Brinson failed to return a devastating return.
With the title at last in the Commodores possession, Casares was greeted with glittering smiles, hardy laughs, and quite a few tears.
The 2015 SEC Tournament championship title now belongs to the Commodores, a squad known for its gritty play, unbelievably hard work ethic, and desire to be the best they can be.
#9 (4) Vanderbilt 4, #6 (2) Georgia 3
#7 Lauren Herring (UGA) def. #9 Sydney Campbell (VU) 6-2, 6-4
#41 Astra Sharma (VU) def. #93 Silvia Garcia (UGA) 6-2, 6-1
#120 Frances Altick (VU) def. #69 Ellen Perez (UGA) 6-4, 6-1
#46 Kennedy Shaffer (UGA) def. #74 Courtney Colton (VU) 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 6-3
#100 Marie Casares (VU) def. #83 Caroline Brinson (UGA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Hannah King (UGA) def. Ashleigh Antal (VU) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
#25 Sydney Campbell/Courtney Colton (VU) def. #19 Lauren Herring/Ellen Perez (UGA) 8-3
#16 Ashleigh Antal/Astra Sharma (VU) def. #24 Silvia Garcia/Kennedy Shaffer (UGA) 8-6
Laura Patterson/Hannah King (UGA) vs. Frances Altick/Marie Casares (VU) 7-7 (2-2), unfinished