The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

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.

Women’s Tennis: Commodores dominate in doubleheader sweep

Vanderbilt rounded out their nonconference schedule with victories over Wofford and Belmont on Sunday.
Vanderbilts+Yufei+Long+returns+a+ball+during+the+Commodores+match+against+Belmont.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt’s Yufei Long returns a ball during the Commodores” match against Belmont. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Following three consecutive victories earlier in the month, the No. 21 Vanderbilt Commodores returned to the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville to complete their nonconference schedule on Feb. 27. Vanderbilt continued to impress in the early portion of the season, improving to 8-1 on the season with a 6-1 win over Wofford and a 7-0 sweep of the Belmont Tigers. With their only loss of the young season coming to the No. 6 California Golden Bears, the Commodores look to be shaping up as an impressive team heading into SEC play starting this weekend.

The Commodores started off the day in strong fashion, securing the doubles point with two quick 6-1 victories. Junior Dasha Kourkina and graduate student MaryAnn Rompf took care of business on the No. 3 court, while Anna Ross and Yufei Long took down Wofford’s top pair on the No. 1 court to earn the Commodores the point. Kourkina and Rompf extended their win streak to three and remained undefeated as a doubles pairing moving into conference play next week. Despite a regular rotation of different doubles pairings early in the season, the Commodores have been able to secure the doubles point in eight of their nine matches this season.

“Mainly, it comes down to us having players that are pretty versatile. Especially with quarantining procedures, we always tell them that they have to be able to play with anyone,” head coach Aleke Tsoubanos said. “Our players have done a great job of rolling with whoever they’re partnered with. It gives us options as a coaching staff.”

Moving to the singles courts, Vanderbilt continued to control the match and quickly moved towards clinching the decisive fourth point. Kourkina and junior Marcella Cruz both came out and dominated their Wofford opponents, both winning their matches 6-0, 6-0 and putting Vanderbilt just one point away from securing the overall victory for the first match of their doubleheader. 

The attention turned to the No. 2 singles court, where Anessa Lee had won the first set of her match in commanding fashion, 6-1. In the end, despite a comeback attempt from Wofford’s Liz Massie, Lee won the second set 6-3, winning her individual match and earning the Commodores their seventh victory of the season. Lee’s victory pushed her record to 7-1 in singles on the season, displaying early season dominance for the sophomore who has climbed to No. 92 in the national singles rankings. 

“[Lee]’s just a tough competitor. We talk about that a lot – she’s a very reliable player with a lot of grit,” Tsoubanos said. “Even when she doesn’t have her best stuff, she still is very good at making it difficult on her opponent and playing low-error tennis.”

Despite trailing 3-1 in the opening set, freshman Amy Stevens fought back to win her match 6-3, 6-4, earning her fifth singles victory of the season and extending the Commodores’ winning streak on the day to six matches. The closest match of the day came on the No. 6 singles court, where Rompf was in a tight match. She managed to win out the first set in a close tiebreak, 7-6(5), before edging out her opponent in the second set, 6-4, to earn Vanderbilt’s sixth point of the day. In the Commodores only loss of the day, Ross had lost the first set on the No. 1 singles court, 6-4, before being forced to retire before the start of the second set. In the end, the Commodores came out of their first match of the day nearly unbeaten and with a convincing team win. 

After a short break between matches, the Commodores came out strong versus Belmont and did not look back. Starting with the doubles matches, Kourkina and Rompf were again successful on the No. 3 court, taking down their Bruin counterparts. Cruz and Long fell to a 5-1 deficit in their match, but were able to storm back to complete an unbelievable comeback and secure the doubles point for the Commodores in a 7-6(2) victory. 

In the singles matches, the Commodores were dominant as ever, not losing a single match en route to a sweep of the Bruins. Cruz, who only dropped one game between both matches, gave the Commodores a 2-0 lead with a dominant 6-0, 6-1 win to cap off her fantastic day. Stevens won her match on the No. 4 court shortly after, before Lee and Kourkina both won their matches in 6-0, 6-4 fashion to push the Commodores to a 5-0 lead.

After losing her first set, 4-6, Long showed great resilience on the No. 2 singles court to win the second set 6-3 and dominate the third set tiebreak, 10-4, to win the Commodores their sixth point of the afternoon. In the final match of the afternoon, Rompf won her match easily, 6-2, 6-1, to secure the sweep for Vanderbilt. 

With a fantastic start to their season behind them, the Commodores will kick off conference play this weekend with matches at Auburn and Alabama. Despite the early season success, Tsoubanos was quick to make sure the Commodores did not look too far ahead of themselves.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge of playing a really good opponent on Friday and not looking past that,” Tsoubanos said.

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About the Contributor
Anish Mago, Deputy Sports Editor
Anish Mago ('24) is from West Windsor, N.J., and is studying economics and political science in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. When not writing for The Hustler, Anish enjoys playing basketball and rooting for all Philly sports. He can be reached at .
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