NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 29th-ranked Vanderbilt men’s tennis team dropped its first home match of the season on Friday, falling to No. 11 Florida, 6-1, in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
The score, however, was no indication as to how tightly contested the match was with each but one of the singles matches (No. 6) going three sets. Unfortunately for the Commodores (7-2, 0-1 SEC), they were only able to win one of those matches against the Gators (6-3, 1-0 SEC).
“We had our chances,” Vanderbilt head coach Ian Duvenhage said. “We had match point to win the doubles point. The bottom line is that we didn’t win the big points. We were close enough to win this match, but we didn’t, so we need to learn from that.”
Vanderbilt’s lone point came courtesy of No. 97 Ryan Preston, who earned a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over No. 6 Greg Ouellette in the No. 1 position.
Despite the loss, Vanderbilt showed a lot of resiliency in its matches. VU dropped the first set in every match besides Preston’s, but was able to force a third set in every match but one.
After Florida took a 1-0 lead by winning two of the three doubles matches, the Gators were able to extend their lead to two, 2-0, as Evan Dufaux was downed by Florida’s Tyler Hochwalt, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.
In the No. 4 position, Vanderbilt’s Nick Cromydas was topped by Florida’s Jeff Dadamo, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. The loss by Cromydas gave Florida a 3-0 lead.
Following Cromydas’ loss, the Commodores were able to get on the board with Preston’s victory.
Florida was able to clinch the match in the No. 3 match as No. 58 Alex Lacroix topped Bryant Salcedo, 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-4. For Salcedo, it was only the second time this spring and the first time since the opening match that he played in the No. 3 position.
Florida was able to eek out the doubles point by taking two of the three matches. In what first looked like an easy point for the Gators, Vanderbilt turned up the heat and forced the point into a back-and-forth battle in the Nos. 1 and 2 positions.
“I thought we ended doubles play pretty well, but we didn’t start very well,” Duvenhage said.
The No. 2 match looked like it was going to have the same result as the No. 3 match, as Vanderbilt’s duo of Nick Cromydas and Bryant Salcedo trailed by as much as 7-4 before going on a remarkable run to win the match. VU tied the match at seven and then won the next two points to take a 9-7 victory.
As Cromydas and Salcedo were wrapping up their match, the No. 1 match between VU’s Ryan Preston and Evan Dufaux and Florida’s Greg Ouellette and Jeff Dadamo was wrapped in a tiebreaker. Like the No. 2 match, Preston and Dufaux were also on the brink of a loss, trailing 7-4, before rallying to even the score at seven and then eight. Once in the tiebreaker, Preston and Dufaux built a 6-5 lead before Florida was able to comeback and win the tiebreaker 8-6 and the match 9-8(6).
Vanderbilt returns to the courts on Sunday when South Carolina visits the Currey Tennis Center at 1 p.m.
No. 11 Florida (6-3, 1-0 SEC) def No. 29 Vanderbilt (7-2, 0-1 SEC), 6-1
Currey Tennis Center
1. Jeff Dadamo/Greg Ouellette (UF) Ryan Preston/Evan Dufaux (VU), 9-8(6)
2. Nick Cromydas/Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Johnny Hamui/Tyler Hochwalt (UF), 9-7
3. Alex Lacroix/Nestor Briceno (UF) def. Vijay Paul/Adam Baker (VU), 8-2
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. No. 97 Ryan Preston (VU) def. No. 6 Greg Ouellette (UF), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
2. Nestor Briceno (UF) def. No. 68 Vijay Paul (VU), 6-1, 3-6, 7-5
3. No. 58 Alex Lacroix (UF) def. Bryant Salcedo (VU), 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-4
4. Jeff Dadamo (UF) def. Nick Cromydas, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
5. Tyler Hochwalt (UF) def. Evan Dufaux (VU), 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
6. Johnny Hamui (UF) def. Alex Zotov (VU) 7-5, 6-3
Order of Finish: 5, 4, 1, 3, 2, 6