Campbell the Commodore Great

Former Vandy tennis star part of Hall of Fame class

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Sydney Campbell couldn’t believe the news.

She was so incredulous that she went as far as to call out Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Lee as a fibber.

“She was like, ‘Well that would be a rude joke,’ ” Campbell said. “So it was just pure shock and then immense gratitude. Such an honor. I never saw this coming, especially being only almost 27. I am just thrilled – thrilled, shocked and honored.”

When the reality set in that Campbell had been named an inductee to Vanderbilt’s newest Athletics Hall of Fame class, she gathered herself and tried to video call her mother, brother and father to announce the news. But her brother was at a movie theater. Her mom was with friends and declined the invite.

Campbell’s elation turned to momentary disappointment as she yearned not only to spread her good news but to thank those closest to her who helped her along her journey.

“Eventually they called me back and they were so excited,” Campbell laughed. “Then I told a few of my teammates who I am still really close with because they were such a huge part of it too.”

Arguably one of the most successful student-athletes in Vanderbilt history and Vanderbilt tennis history, Campbell went 108-50 in singles play and was ranked as high as seventh nationally during her illustrious career. She became Vanderbilt’s first singles player to reach the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship.

Campbell, now working in real estate, was named the 2017 Ohio Valley Regional Player of the Year and the 2017 SEC Tournament MVP and  would become a three-time All-American. She was the 2014 SEC co-Freshman of the Year and twice made the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Campbell won 34 matches as a senior – the second-most in a single season at Vanderbilt. She played No. 1 singles on the 2015 team that won the NCAA and SEC Tournament titles and also led Vanderbilt to the Final Four in 2016 and 2017.

“The first SEC championship, that felt like a national championship to all of us. We just never saw it coming,” Campbell said of her finest memory on the court. “So being part of history and winning the three first major championships for women’s tennis has been really cool.

“Also being able to clinch the regular season title on my senior day at home was probably my favorite memory while playing on Vanderbilt’s court.”

Campbell and 10 other inductees will be celebrated Jan. 28 during the official induction ceremony at the Vanderbilt Student Life Center.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.