FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Vanderbilt’s 22nd-ranked men’s tennis team dropped a tightly contested match at No. 69 Arkansas, 4-3, on Friday at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center.
Playing its first conference road match of the season, Vanderbilt (9-3, 1-2 SEC) breezed through doubles play, winning all three matches for the second time in a row before faltering in singles play. The loss snapped Vanderbilt’s two-match win streak. For Arkansas (8-6, 1-2 SEC), the win was its first in league play this season.
The match was extremely close in singles play with four of the matches spanning three sets, including a three-hour match in the No. 1 position.
The Commodores opened the match with Nick Cromydas and Bryant Salcedo moving to 6-0 in doubles play this spring with an 8-2 victory over Arkansas’ team of Taylor King and Tyler Tarnasky in the No. 2 position.
Clinching the doubles point for the Commodores was Vijay Paul and Adam Baker in the No. 3 position with an 8-4 win over Dmitry Lebedev and Matt Hogan. The win was the third in a row for the Vanderbilt duo.
Earning the sweep of the doubles matches for Vanderbilt was Ryan Preston and Evan Dufaux in the No. 1 position. Preston and Dufaux defeated Blake Strode and Colin Mascall, 8-6, for their second straight win.
With Vanderbilt holding a 1-0 lead in the match following doubles play, the Commodores were able to take a 2-0 lead in the match, as No. 82 Vijay Paul defeated Arkansas’ Matt Hogan, 6-4, 6-4, in the No. 2 position.
Arkansas was able to earn its first point of the match in the No. 3 position, as the Razorbacks’ Chris Nott defeated Vanderbilt’s Nick Cromydas, 6-3, 6-4.
With Vanderbilt still leading 2-1 in the match, Arkansas was able to even the score with a three-set victory in the No. 4 position. In the match Vanderbilt’s Bryant Salcedo was one point away from winning, but ended up falling 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-0 to Dmitry Lebedev.
Just when things were looking to swing favorably in Arkansas’ direction, VU’s Alex Zotov pushed the Commodores back in front with a 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-3 win over Bradwin Williams in the No. 6 position.
Needing just one point to secure the match, the Commodores lost the remaining two matches, which each went three sets.
After Evan Dufaux was able to win the first set over Arkansas’ Tyler Tarnasky in the No. 5 position, Tarnasky was able to rally for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win.
Tarnasky’s win in the No. 5 position knotted the match at three and set the stage for the conclusion of a nail-biting match in the No. 1 position between No. 65 Ryan Preston and Arkansas’ Blake Strode.
The match lasted three hours with each set going into a tiebreaker. After Strode won the first set 7-6(1), Preston held off defeat with a 7-6(4) win in the second set. The third set was just as tight with Strode winning 7-6(2). Strode’s win halted Preston’s six-match winning streak and gave Arkansas a 4-3 win.
Vanderbilt will continue its road trip on Sunday when the Commodores travel to No. 44 LSU for an 11 a.m. match.
No. 69 Arkansas (8-6, 1-2 SEC) def. No. 22 Vanderbilt (9-3, 1-2 SEC), 4-3
1. Ryan Preston/Evan Dufaux (VU) def. Blake Strode/Colin Mascall (UA), 8-6
2. Nick Cromydas/Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Taylor King/Tyler Tarnasky (UA), 8-2
3. Vijay Paul/Adam Baker (VU) def. Dmitry Lebedev/Matt Hogan (UA), 8-4
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1
1. Blake Strode (UA) def. No. 65 Ryan Preston (VU), 7-6(1), 6-7(4), 7-6(2)
2. No. 82 Vijay Paul (VU) def. Matt Hogan (UA), 6-4, 6-4
3. Chris Nott (UA) def. Nick Cromydas (VU), 6-3, 6-4
4. Dmitry Lebedev (UA) def. Bryant Salcedo (VU), 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-0
5. Tyler Tarnasky (UA) def. Evan Dufaux (VU), 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
6. Alex Zotov (VU) def. Bradwin Williams (UA), 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-3
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 4, 6, 5, 1