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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.

Women’s Tennis: Commodores close regular season with two SEC wins, prepare for SEC Tournament

Vanderbilt notched victories over Mississippi State and Ole Miss this weekend and will face Ole Miss once again in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday.
Claire Gatlin
Vanderbilt women’s tennis competes in a match on April 1, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Claire Gatlin)

The Vanderbilt Commodores (15-8) women’s tennis team concluded the regular season on a high note, winning six of their last eight matches. In their final homestand, they topped the Mississippi State Bulldogs (11-14), 5-1, on April 15 and the Ole Miss Rebels (15-10), 4-1, on April 17. The pair of wins vaulted the Commodores to No. 31 nationally heading into the SEC Tournament. 

The Commodores are coming together at the right time ahead of the postseason. The team began the season with a blazing 8-1 record in nonconference play, then stumbled in difficult road matchups against quality SEC teams. They finally strung together quality conference wins against Tennessee, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Mississippi State down the stretch. Their recent play has the team and head coach Aleke Tsoubanos excited for the tournament.

“You stress to the team the importance of continually getting better,” Coach Tsoubanos told The Hustler. “We’ve seen the team really move in that direction the last month or so, where they’re learning how to compete match in match out. We’re starting to put it together; it’s been a rewarding last month, and we’re going to focus on the SEC Tournament now.”

Against Mississippi State on Friday, Vanderbilt clinched the doubles point, as the pairings of No. 39 junior Anna Ross and No. 86 sophomore Holly Staff as well as juniors Dasha Kourkina and MaryAnn Rompf handled business on Courts 1 and 3, with 7-6 and 7-4 wins, respectively. 

The Bulldogs struck first in singles with a win on Court 1, where No. 81 Emma Antonaki defeated Ross in two sets. This match would be the only victory seen by the Bulldogs, with the Commodores proceeding to notch victories on Courts 2, 3, 5 and 6 by No. 69 sophomore Anessa Lee, Staff, Kourkina and freshman Amy Stevens, respectively. To clinch the Commodore win, Stevens captured a thrilling three-set victory after dropping the first set (2-6, 6-4, 6-4). 

Positive momentum carried the team into Sunday against Ole Miss, as the Commodores once again secured the doubles point in three sets. Senior Yufei Long and Staff found success on Court 2 with a 6-1 victory, while Kourkina and Rompf continued their dominance on Court 3, winning 6-4. 

Singles play has the Commodores on a tear. Long opened the singles action with a victory in straight sets (6-0, 6-4) on her Senior Day. The Rebels followed with their only victory of the afternoon with No. 65 Sabina Machalova defeating Lee (7-5, 6-2) on the top court, trimming the Commodore lead to 2-1. Staff followed up by taking her second victory of the day in a two-set sweep on Court 2. Stevens clinched the game-winner once again with a 6-4 victory in the first set and an exciting 7-6 tiebreaker on Court 6. Tsoubanos stressed how well her singles players have performed of late.

“Yufei stepped up on Sunday and got a straight set win. Staff is competing probably the best I’ve seen her yet in her career at Vanderbilt,” Tsoubanos said. “Amy Stevens came up huge in both matches. Being able to clinch those singles matches, kind of had momentum turn against her, but she competed beautifully and pulled those out and they were huge.”

The Commodores now look ahead to the SEC Tournament and are set for a rematch against No. 9 Ole Miss in the first round on April 21 at 11 a.m. CDT. Vanderbilt enters the tournament as the No. 8 seed, where a win will earn them a date with a No. 4 seed or better in the quarterfinals. Despite grabbing a comfortable victory against the Rebels in the home finale, the team is not looking past the matchup.

“You want to take what you can in terms of learning from that match but understand that this could be a very different match,” Tsoubanos said. “This time we’ll be in Gainesville; it’ll be a more physical match this time around. We’ll have some new matchups, and we’ll really try to take what we can from Sunday and get after them again on Thursday. I expect it to be a really quality match.”

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About the Contributors
Adam Weiss
Adam Weiss, Former Staff Writer
Adam Weiss (2024) is a sophomore from Colts Neck, N.J., in the College of Arts and Science. He is studying economics and math with a minor in data science. Adam is currently a staff writer for the Sports section. In his free time, he loves to play basketball and golf, while also hoping his New York Giants and Knicks can turn it around.
Claire Gatlin
Claire Gatlin, Former Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
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