NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Facing its fourth consecutive ranked opponent, the No. 29 Vanderbilt men’s tennis team extended its record to 6-1 on the season and 3-1 against ranked opponents with a 5-2 win over No. 28 Wisconsin on Sunday at the Currey Tennis Center.
Vanderbilt (6-1) won the doubles point and then took four of the six singles matches against the Badgers (4-5). The closeness of the match is not indicated in the final score, as two of the three doubles matches went into a tiebreaker and three of the singles matches had two sets go into a tiebreaker.
After dropping the doubles point in each of its last two matches, Vanderbilt got back on track on Sunday by sweeping all three matches to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Head coach Ian Duvenhage shook up the doubles lineup by forming each duo with players that had not played with each other in a match this spring, and the experiment paid off.
With Vanderbilt leading 1-0 following doubles play, Wisconsin was able to knot the score at one, as No. 100 Nolan Polley of Wisconsin defeated No. 79 Vijay Paul 6-1, 6-1 in the No. 2 position. The loss was Paul’s first of the spring, falling to 6-1.
Wisconsin was able to build a 2-1 lead in the match after the Badgers’ Marek Michalicka topped Nick Cromydas, 7-6(5), 6-1 in the No. 3 position. That, however, would be Wisconsin’s final point of the match.
Vanderbilt’s Bryant Salcedo tied the match back up at two with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Wisconsin’s Jeremy Sonkin in the No. 4 position. The win moved Salcedo to 5-2 this spring.
Following Salcedo’s win, the remaining three matches came down to the wire with the just a few points in each match swinging the momentum to Vanderbilt.
Giving Vanderbilt a 3-2 lead in the match was Ryan Preston, who won his second straight match with a 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-6(3) win over No. 39 Moritz Baumann in the No. 1 position. Preston’s win shifted the momentum of the match to Vanderbilt’s side.
“In particular, I like the way Ryan (Preston) hung in,” Duvenhage said. “We won this match because of him. He’s been sick all week and we didn’t even know if he was going to be able to play. He just wouldn’t go away and never said die.”
After Preston’s back-and-forth victory, Vanderbilt’s Evan Dufaux was able to clinch the match for the Commodores with a dramatic 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(9) win over Wisconsin’s Luke Rassow-Kantor in the No. 5 position. The win moved Dufaux’s record to 6-1 this spring.
In the No. 6 position, Alex Zotov rallied after losing the first set to defeat the Badgers’ Michael Dierberger, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3.
“There are a lot of things that go into being a successful team and winning tennis matches,” Duvenhage said. “The fact of the matter is that we did one of them well today and the others we did badly. Really the only thing that I’m happy with, and I’m not even happy with everyone on our team in this regard, is the way we hung in.”
In doubles play, Vanderbilt’s first win was by the tandem of Evan Dufaux and Adam Baker, who downed Wisconsin’s Nolan Polley and Marek Michalicka, 8-6, in the No. 3 match. Dufaux and Baker started the match trailing 3-0 before rallying for the win.
Clinching the doubles point was the team of Nick Cromydas and Bryant Salcedo in the No. 2 position. Cromydas and Salcedo took a 9-8(6) victory over Wisconsin’s team of Moritz Baumann and Michael Dierberger.
Up next, the Commodores will host Middle Tennessee State on Feb. 24 at 11 a.m.
No. 29 Vanderilt 5 (6-1) defeated No. 28 Wisconsin 2 (4-5)
1. Ryan Preston/Vijay Paul (VU) def. No. 26 Jeremy Sonkin/Luke Rassow-Kantor (WIS), 9-8(4)
2. Nick Cromydas/Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Moritz Baumann/Michael Dierberger (WIS), 9-8(6)
3. Evan Dufaux/Adam Baker (VU) def. Nolan Polley/Marek Michalicka (WIS), 8-6
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. Ryan Preston (VU) def. No. 39 Moritz Baumann (WIS), 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-6(3)
2. No. 100 Nolan Polley (WIS) def. No. 79 Vijay Paul (VU), 6-1, 6-1
3. Marek Michalicka (WIS) def. Nick Cromydas (VU), 7-6(5), 6-1
4. Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Jeremy Sonkin (WIS), 6-4, 6-4
5. Evan Dufaux (VU) def. Luke Rassow-Kantor (WIS), 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(9)
6. Alex Zotov (VU) def. Michael Dierberger (WIS), 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 4, 1, 5, 6