Balling in Evanston: Vanderbilt Women’s Tennis gets in the win column against Northwestern

Coming off a challenging tournament, the Commodores defeated the Wildcats to notch their first win of the spring.


Women’s double tennis match between Vanderbilt and Purdue as photographed on October 9, 2022. (Hustler Staff/Chloe Kim)

Jonah Barbin, Sports Copy Editor

The Commodores took their talents up north last Sunday, facing Northwestern in their first dual match of their spring season in Evanston, Illinois. Vanderbilt came into this match ranked No. 21 in the nation, while the Wildcats were unranked. 

Vanderbilt was coming fresh off facing stiff competition in the Miami Spring Invite. The results in that tournament were mixed, but big victories by Anessa Lee, No. 35 Bridget Stammel and Holly Staff could serve as building blocks as the Commodores look ahead at the rest of this spring season. Still, a lot of work has to be done, as Vanderbilt earned victories on just 41% of their matches on the weekend.

The day against Northwestern began with Vanderbilt winning the doubles point. Lee and Celia-Belle Mohr remained undefeated as a pair on the season, cruising past Kiley Rabjohns and Maria Shusharina, 6-1. Anna Ross and Staff also navigated their way to victory, beating Briana Crowley and Sydney Pratt, 6-4. Marcella Cruz and Stammel dropped their doubles match, losing to Christina Hand and Justine Leong.

“It was exciting to finally see the team in dual action today and begin our spring season together,” said Vanderbilt head coach Aleke Tsoubanos. “It was the first dual action for [Mohr and Stammel] and I thought they handled the nerves of the dual match very well.”

On the singles side, Mohr earned another victory, this time coming from behind to take down Maria Shusharina, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Staff followed suit, defeating Pratt in straight sets. Stammel and Lee bested Hand and Leong, respectively, in straight sets as well. Amy Stevens and Dasha Kourkina were the lone Commodores defeated in their singles matches.

Vanderbilt’s performance was good enough to propel them to a 5-2 victory over Northwestern. Tsoubanos was very pleased with her team’s performance.

“We began with some great doubles at 1 and 3 to grab that first point and Anessa and Holly pulling out highly contested first sets was huge for momentum,” Tsoubanos said.

After a fiercely competitive tournament where the Commodores looked out-matched at times, it was encouraging to see them find the win column again.

“Northwestern fought hard in every position, and I’m very proud of the way the [Commodores] responded to get our first win of the season,” Tsoubanos said.

Vanderbilt will be back in action in Raleigh, North Carolina on Jan. 28 to face Furman in a dual match on ITA Kickoff Weekend.