FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Playing in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time since 2003, Vanderbilt had its tournament run come to an end on Friday when No. 3 Georgia topped the 31st-ranked Commodores, 4-2, at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center.
Friday’s match was much different than the last time the two teams met 12 days ago when Georgia (21-2, 10-1 SEC) swept the Commodores (13-9, 4-7 SEC), 7-0. Although Vanderbilt never led, it tied the match at one after losing the doubles point, and trailed 3-2 before Georgia clinched the match. With two points scored, Vanderbilt became just the eighth team this season to score two points against the Bulldogs.
“We had our chances in doubles, but we weren’t able to get it done,” Vanderbilt head coach Ian Duvenhage said. In singles, we were getting close there, but in matches against Georgia, you have to get them when you have them back on their heels and they are looking up at the scoreboard. We were close, but we didn’t quite get there. We are closing the gap, but we aren’t there yet.”
After dropping the doubles point, Vanderbilt evened the score at one when Nick Cromydas earned a win over Georgia’s Luis Flores. Cromydas earned the win after Flores was leading 5-4 in the first set before retiring.
Georgia quickly regained the lead in the No. 6 position, as Georgia’s Josh Varela earned a 6-1, 6-4 win over James Moye, who clinched Vanderbilt’s win over Arkansas Thursday.
The Bulldogs were then able to take a 3-1 lead in the match when No. 10 Nate Schnugg ended Vijay Paul’s two-match win streak with a 6-4, 6-2 win.
Trailing 3-1, Vanderbilt’s Alex Zotov was able to cut Georgia’s lead to one, 3-2, with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 102 Javier Garrapiz. The win by Zotov was his second in a row.
After Vanderbilt had narrowed the gap back to one, 3-2, the Bulldogs’ Travis Helgeson clinched the overall match with a 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 54 Ryan Preston. Earlier this season, Preston and No. 4 Helgeson played three sets with Helgeson winning in a tiebreaker.
Helgeson’s win froze the remaining singles match between VU’s Bryant Salcedo and No. 40 Jamie Hunt with Hunt leading 6-3, 4-1.
In doubles play, Vanderbilt lost the point for the 10th straight match, as Georgia won the first two completed matches.
Just like against Arkansas on Thursday, the matches in the Nos. 2 and 3 positions were the first to be completed, while the match in the No. 1 position went unfinished.
The Bulldogs clinched the doubles point when Christian Vitulli and Javier Garrapiz downed VU’s tandem of Adam Baker and Bryant Salcedo, 8-6. Baker and Salcedo had built a 4-2 lead in the match before Georgia came back.
For the second day in a row, Vanderbilt’s No. 1 doubles team of Alex Zotov and Ryan Preston were unable to finish their match since the doubles point had already been clinched. At the time when Georgia clinched the doubles point, Zotov and Preston trailed the 32nd-ranked duo of Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg, 6-5.
The Commodores will now turn their attention to Tuesday, April 29 when the NCAA will announce the participants in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The selections will be revealed at 1 p.m. CT on ESPNews.
Last season, Vanderbilt advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Commodores have made the NCAA Tournament six of the last seven years, missing only in 2006.
The last time Vanderbilt reached the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, it defeated Georgia, 4-0, in 2003 before winning the tournament title.
No. 3 Georgia 4 def. No. 31 Vanderbilt 2
1. No. 32 Nate Schnugg/Jamie Hunt (UGA) def. Ryan Preston/Alex Zotov (VU), 6-5 (Susp.)
2. Luis Flores/Travis Helgeson (UGA) def. Nick Cromydas/Vijay Paul (VU), 8-5
3. Javier Garrapiz/Christian Vitulli (UGA) def. Adam Baker/Bryant Salcedo (VU), 8-6
Order of Finish: 2, 3
1. No. 4 Travis Helgeson (UGA) def. No. 54 Ryan Preston (VU), 6-4, 6-2
2. Nick Cromydas (VU) def. No. 66 Luis Flores (UGA), 5-4, retired
3. No. 10 Nate Schnugg (UGA) def. Vijay Paul (VU), 6-4, 6-2
4. No. 40 Jamie Hunt (UGA) vs. Bryant Salcedo (VU), 6-3, 4-1 (Susp.)
5. Alex Zotov (VU) def. No. 102 Javier Garrapiz (UGA), 6-3, 6-3
6. Josh Varela (UGA) def. James Moye (VU), 6-1, 6-4
Order of Finish: 2, 6, 3, 5, 1