Men’s Tennis: Vanderbilt begins fall season by hosting the Commodore Invitational

The Commodores faced high-level competition against players from nine top-ranked teams over the weekend.


Arianna Santiago

Freshman Mitchell Deames hits a forehand stroke, as captured on Sept. 24, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Arianna Santiago)

Matthew Shipley, Senior Staff Writer

Vanderbilt opened the 2022-23 fall season this weekend, hosting players from 10 schools for the Commodore Invitational. The tournament consisted of three 16-player singles and three doubles flights. All 10 Commodores played and collected a combined record of 15-23 in singles play and 5-10 in doubles over three days.

The Commodore Invitational included student-athletes from No. 2 Florida, No. 10 South Carolina, No. 12 Texas, No. 23 Auburn, No. 34 Oklahoma, No. 35 Ole Miss, No. 43 Georgia Tech, No. 50 Illinois, No. 55 Vanderbilt and No. 57 Clemson, according to final team rankings from the 2021-22 season.

“There were a lot of our players who played really well,” head coach Ian Duvenhage said. “We lost a lot of matches, but I think we accomplished our goal, which was to see how we stack up against the best competition in the country.”

Freshmen Nathan Cox, Mitchell Deames and Paul Wang made their collegiate debuts this weekend, and each of the five-star recruit trio was able to pick up a singles win. Cox also played well as a doubles partner to sophomore Michael Ross, picking up two wins together before they lost in the final of their draw to a duo from Texas.

Duvenhage specifically pointed out the performance of Ross as a good sign for the team going into this season. Ross won his Friday match 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 and competed with No. 9 Tyler Stice from Auburn for 3.5 hours on Saturday. Ross ultimately fell short to Stice 5-7, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (3).

“It’s very important to the future of our team that [Ross] starts to play like he can, and he showed that this weekend,” Duvenhage said.

Other strong singles showings came from junior Jeremie Casabon and graduate student Marcus Ferreira. Casabon and Ferreira both went 3-1 during the weekend, and Ferreira made it to the final of his singles draw.

Two matches featured Commodores on both sides of the net, a sight usually reserved for practice. Casabon beat 59th-ranked Joubert Klopper 6-2, 5-7, 10-8 and Deames topped Wang 6-4, 6-2.

In doubles competition, the Commodores struggled to produce victories, which Duvenhage saw as a learning opportunity for the team going forward.

“We took it on the chin a lot more than I would have liked for us to, but it showed us who our best doubles players are, and we will reconfigure our combinations in that regard,” Duvenhage said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do and a ways to go, but all in all I think it was a very successful tournament.”

Next up, select members of the Commodores will head to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championship Oct. 2-10.