NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Playing its penultimate non-conference match of the season, Vanderbilt’s men’s tennis team improved its record to 7-1 on the season with a 5-2 win over No. 61 Middle Tennessee State on Sunday at the Currey Tennis Center.
The win gave No. 30 Vanderbilt its fourth win in five tries against ranked opponents this season, as the Commodores ready to open SEC play next weekend. Vanderbilt won the doubles point and then took four of six singles matches against the Blue Raiders (4-8).
“I thought we did a good job,” Vanderbilt head coach Ian Duvenhage said. “With rare exceptions, I like what we did. With the exception of Bryant’s (Salcedo) match, we won the first sets and then (MTSU) started coming back. (MTSU) won a second set here and a second set there and things started getting tight in Vijay’s (Paul) match and Evan’s (Dufaux) match. We just stiffened up when it mattered most. I think it was a good win against a good team. (The Blue Raiders) are taking their lumps, but they are good.”
After winning the doubles point, Vanderbilt took a 2-0 lead in the match, as Evan Dufaux downed MTSU’s Chris Nowak, 7-6(1), 7-6(5), in the No. 5 singles match. Dufaux trailed 3-0 in the second-set tiebreaker before rallying to move his record to 7-1 this spring.
The Commodores expanded their lead to three, 3-0, as No. 68 Vijay Paul earned a 6-1, 7-6(0) win over the Blue Raiders’ Marc Rocafort. Like Dufaux, Paul is now 7-1 this spring.
Clinching the match for Vanderbilt was No. 97 Ryan Preston, who took a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 decision over MTSU’s John Peers. The win was the third in a row for Preston, who moved to 5-3 this spring.
MTSU earned its first point of the match when Morgan Richard dealt Vanderbilt’s Nick Cromydas a tough 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 loss in the No. 3 position.
Following Cromydas’ loss Bryant Salcedo ran his record to 6-2 on the season with a hard-fought 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1 win over MTSU’s Richard Cowden. Salcedo’s win was VU’s fifth point of the match.
Playing the final match of the day, Vanderbilt’s Alex Zotov was defeated by MTSU’s Joao Paoliello, 6-4, 4-6, 10-8. Since Vanderbilt had already clinched the match, the third set was a 10-point tiebreaker. Zotov is now 5-2 this spring.
After dropping the first doubles match of the day in the No. 3 position, Vanderbilt’s Nos. 1 and 2 doubles tandems were able to earn victories and secure the Commodores sixth doubles point in eight matches this season.
Playing for the second straight match together, Vanderbilt’s duo of Nick Cromydas and Bryant Salcedo moved to 2-0 this season with an 8-4 win over MTSU’s team of Morgan Richard and Chris Nowak in the No. 2 position.
Clinching the Commodores’ doubles point was VU’s No. 1 team of Ryan Preston and Evan Dufaux. The duo was playing together for the first time this season, but it didn’t show, as they took a 9-7 victory over MTSU’s team of John Peers and Richard Cowden.
Next weekend, Vanderbilt will open SEC play at home when No. 14 Florida and No. 60 South Carolina visit Music City for matches on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
No. 30 Vanderilt 5 (7-1) def. No. 61 Middle Tennessee State 2 (4-8)
1. Ryan Preston/Evan Dufaux (VU) def. John Peers/Richard Cowden (MTSU), 9-7
2. Nick Cromydas/Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Morgan Richard/Chris Nowak (MTSU), 8-4
3. Vijay Paul/Adam Baker (VU) def. Marc Rocafort/Joao Paoliello (MTSU), 8-6
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. No. 97 Ryan Preston (VU) def. John Peers (MTSU), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
2. No. 68 Vijay Paul (VU) def. Marc Rocafort (MTSU), 6-1, 7-6(0)
3. Morgan Richard (MTSU) def. Nick Cromydas (VU), 1-6, 6-4, 6-4
4. Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Richard Cowden (MTSU), 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1
5. Evan Dufaux (VU) def. Chris Nowak (MTSU), 7-6(1), 7-6(5)
6. Joao Paoliello (MTSU) def. Alex Zotov (VU) 6-4, 4-6, 10-8
Order of Finish: 5, 2, 1, 3, 4, 6