LEXINGTON, Ky. — In pursuit of a dose of momentum heading into the postseason, Vanderbilt’s 31st-ranked men’s tennis team got just that on Saturday when it picked up its first road Southeastern Conference victory of the season with a 4-3 win over No. 40 Kentucky in the 2008 regular season finale.
“It was a good match to win and we really got stellar performances from some of the guys,” Vanderbilt head coach Ian Duvenhage said.
Vanderbilt moved to 12-8 overall and 4-7 in the SEC, while Kentucky fell to 11-14 overall and 3-8 in the SEC. The Commodores’ 4-3 win Saturday at the Boone Tennis Complex is nothing new to Vanderbilt, which has now earned all four of its SEC victories by the score of 4-3 (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi State and South Carolina).
The win also wrapped up the No. 8 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament, where the Commodores will play ninth-seeded Arkansas in the first round. Both Arkansas and Kentucky concluded the regular season with 3-8 records in the SEC, but Arkansas won the head-to-head match over the Wildcats. Vanderbilt fell 4-3 at Arkansas earlier this year.
The Commodores looked like they were in trouble early against Kentucky, dropping the doubles point followed by the No. 1 singles match to fall behind 2-0. However, Vanderbilt came roaring back with four straight wins to clinch the match.
Getting Vanderbilt on the board first was freshman Bryant Salcedo, who earned a 6-2, 7-6(7) win in the No. 4 position over Kentucky’s Will Beck.
Trailing 2-1 in the match, junior Nick Cromydas squared the match at two-all with a come-from-behind win over Kentucky’s Brad Cox in the No. 2 position. Cromydas dropped the first set, 6-3, before rallying to win the second set, 6-1, and the third set, 7-6(3). With the win Cromydas moved to 6-5 in the SEC.
“Nick Cromydas had a big win for us today,” Duvenhage said. “He lost the first set and then was down 5-2 in the third set before coming back. That was good for our momentum.”
Vanderbilt took its first lead of the match courtesy of No. 106 Vijay Paul, who earned a hard-fought 7-6(6), 7-6(2) win over Kentucky’s Marcus Sundh in the No. 3 position. Paul’s win pushed Vanderbilt into the lead, 3-2, and gave Paul his 20th win of the season.
“Vijay Paul had a great win for us,” Duvenhage said. “He won two tiebreakers in an extremely close match and his win really gave us a lift.”
Following Paul’s win, freshman Alex Zotov was able to clinch the overall match for the Commodores with a 7-6(0), 6-3 win over Alex Lambropoulos in the No. 6 position.
Kentucky’s final point came in the No. 5 position, where Shane Collins downed Vanderbilt’s Evan Dufaux, 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-5(6). With the score in the third set tied at five, the final game was decided by a tiebreaker since the overall match had already been clinched.
In the No. 1 position, Kentucky’s 19th-ranked Bruno Agostinelli defeated No. 55 Ryan Preston, 6-4, 6-2.
In doubles play, Kentucky was able to win the point by taking two of the three matches. Vanderbilt built an early advantage by winning the first completed match in the No. 2 position, but the Wildcats held on to win the Nos. 1 and 3 matches.
The Commodores’ win came courtesy of Nick Cromydas and Bryant Salcedo, who earned an 8-5 win over Kentucky’s duo of Will Beck and Shane Collins. The win snapped a four-match losing skid for the duo and moved their record to 9-5 overall and 6-5 in the SEC.
Following the win by Cromydas and Salcedo, Kentucky was able to bounce back and by winning the match in the No. 1 position where Bruno Agostinelli and Brad Cox earned an 8-2 win over Vanderbilt’s Ryan Preston and Vijay Paul.
Kentucky was able to clinch the doubles point in the No. 3 position, as Alex Lambropoulos and Marcus Sundh took an 8-5 win over the Commodores’ tandem of Alex Zotov and Adam Baker, who were playing together for the second consecutive match, but for just the second time this season.
Up next, Vanderbilt will begin postseason play at the 2008 SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament on April 17 in Fayetteville, Ark.
No. 31 Vanderbilt (12-8, 4-7 SEC) def. No. 40 Kentucky (11-14, 3-8 SEC), 4-3
1. Agostinelli/Cox (UK) def. Ryan Preston/Vijay Paul (VU), 8-2
2. Nick Cromydas/Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Beck/Collins (UK), 8-5
3. Lambropoulos/Sundh (UK) def. Alex Zotov/Adam Baker (VU), 8-5
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3
1. No. 19 Bruno Agostinelli (UK) def. No. 55 Ryan Preston (VU), 6-4, 6-2
2. Nick Cromydas (VU) def. Brad Cox (UK), 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3)
3. No. 106 Vijay Paul (VU) def. Marcus Sundh (UK), 7-6(6), 7-6(2)
4. Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Will Beck (UK), 6-2, 7-6(7)
5. Shane Collins (UK) def. Evan Dufaux (VU), 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-5(6)
6. Alex Zotov (VU) def. Alex Lambropoulos (UK), 7-6(0), 6-3
Order of Finish: 1, 4, 2, 3, 6, 5