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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt men’s tennis to begin SEC play after split in Cambridge

Following a couple matches last week against Ivy League teams in Cambridge, the Vanderbilt Commodores return home to start SEC play against Georgia.
George+Harwell+celebrates+after+defeating+Alafia+Ayeni+of+Cornell+in+three+sets+on+Feb.+27%2C+2022.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29
George Harwell celebrates after defeating Alafia Ayeni of Cornell in three sets on Feb. 27, 2022. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

The Vanderbilt Commodores men’s tennis team returned from a two-game split in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ahead of Friday’s SEC opener against the Georgia Bulldogs. The road trip began on Friday, Feb. 25, with the Commodores’ first defeat of the spring season against the No. 13 Harvard Crimson. Vanderbilt rebounded on Sunday by beating the Cornell Big Red despite losing the doubles point. The Commodores are now 7-1 in dual matches this season ahead of this weekend’s opening conference matchups.

Fifth-years George Harwell and Max Freeman opened the Harvard match with a 6-1 doubles win, but the Crimson won the doubles matches on both of the other courts to take a 1-0 lead. Harvard clinched the match early by winning five of the six singles matches in straight sets.

 This included the Court 2 defeat of junior Joubert Klopper, whose 7-5, 6-3 loss sealed the dual match for the Crimson. Harwell faced No. 20 Henry Von Der Schulenburg on Court 1, but came up empty as well. The only point of the day for the Commodores came from sophomore Jeremie Casabon, whose three-set win on the fifth court made the final match score 6-1.

“Harvard played better than we did, and in some cases considerably,” head coach Ian Duvenhage told The Hustler. “We didn’t play badly, they just played better.”

Vanderbilt returned on Sunday to face Cornell on neutral ground. The Commodores again were defeated in doubles, this time losing on both of the bottom two courts before the Court 1 match was abandoned at 6-6.

“I thought we didn’t all show up for doubles. When you play a team of that caliber and you have six guys on the court, and not everybody is showing up, it’s hard to win the doubles point,” Duvenhage said.

Vanderbilt played much better in the singles matches, winning on four of the six courts to win the dual match 4-3. The Commodores won on all of the bottom three courts in straight sets, including wins for junior Siim Troost, Freeman, and Casabon.

“Sunday was only the fourth or fifth match that [Casabon’s] played,” Duvenhage said, referring to Casabon’s recent struggle with COVID, a viral infection and a broken foot. “He started off really rusty and slow in the first couple, but he’s just getting stronger and better. He did a really good job this weekend and so we just hope for him to get stronger and better.”

Senior Marcus Ferreira lost in straight sets on Court 3, meaning that one of the Commodores would need to win a third set to clinch the match. The dual match was sealed by No. 54 Harwell, who won his third set 6-3 to take down the Big Red.

The Commodores open their SEC campaign with two matches this weekend: home against the Georgia Bulldogs on Friday, and away against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday. Vanderbilt will hope to keep its strong form going as they open the conference season against Georgia, one of the top tennis programs in the SEC.

“Yesterday was our first day outside since last November, and so we’re just trying to get used to playing outside here in a hurry. We know that Georgia has been the benchmark of SEC tennis for the last 25 years, so we’re starting off with a bang facing them in the first match. But I think our team feels good, and they’re excited to play,” Duvenhage said.

The Georgia match starts on Friday, Mar. 4, at 2 p.m. CST.

 

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About the Contributor
Frankie Sheehy, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Frankie Sheehy ('24) wrote for The Hustler Sports section and graduated from the College of Arts and Science with majors in economics and law, history and society. He was also the president of the Vanderbilt Chess Club and a superfan of the Chicago White Sox. You can reach him at [email protected].
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