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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.

Men’s Tennis: Vanderbilt defeats Auburn in a tight 4-3 battle

The Commodores were victorious against the No. 21 Auburn Tigers, pulling in a second SEC win.
Vanderbilt athletics
Two players on the Commodores celebrate in the win over Auburn as photographed on March 22 2024. (Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt athletics)

The No. 56 Vanderbilt Commodores prevailed in a home matchup against the No. 21 Auburn Tigers on March 22, 4-3. The Commodores entered the matchup looking to remain on the right track after winning last Sunday against Ole Miss, a victory that had come after four straight losses to open conference play.

In doubles, Vanderbilt opened with an early lead, as duos Joubert Klopper/Michael Ross and Jeremie Casabon/Nathan Cox put up a pair of 3-1 scores midway through their matches. Klopper and Ross continued to forge ahead, breaking a 40-40 game score to go up 4-1. They secured Vanderbilt’s first victory of the day with a 6-3 win.

With this first match won, only one of the two other Vanderbilt teams needed to take their match for the Commodores to secure the doubles point. Danil Panarin and Hugo Coquelin answered the call, winning their match with a 6-3 score, after fighting back from being down 1-3. Casabon and Cox were playing a tight match when play ended after Panarin and Coquelin’s victory.

“I love the energy we came out with in doubles. It has been two matches in a row where we struggled in doubles a little bit, but the guys have been working through it,” head coach Scott Brown said. “We have been building the energy up and the intensity, and the guys have brought it the last two matches in the doubles point, which has been the difference maker.”

After taking the doubles point, the Commodores needed to win three of the six singles matches to take the match. Unfortunately for the Commodores, the road to victory became more challenging, as the Tigers pedaled forward, convincingly taking the first set in four of the five matches in play. Cox was the only Commodore to take an early lead, winning his first set 6-2.

Court 1 was the first to finish a second set, with No. 85 Panarin scoring a 6-1 victory to force a third set against his opponent No. 43 Tyler Stice. Shortly afterwards, Casabon became the first Commodore to fall, losing his match 3-6, 2-6. On Court 3, Cox, the sole Commodore to take the first set, lost the second by a 4-6 score to Auburn’s Alejandro Moreno.

On Court 2, meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s Klopper fought through two match points in back-to-back games to knot his second set at 5-5. However, in the eleventh game of the match, Klopper suffered a loss, meaning he would need to win the next game to avoid losing the match. At the same time, Ross was also locked within a tight second set that was tied 5-5.

Unlike Klopper, though, Ross was able to win the eleventh game to get a 6-5 second set lead. Klopper then became the second Commodore to lose after a 1-6, 5-7 defeat. Vanderbilt’s Ross fared better than his teammate, winning his second set to force a third.

The match was heating up, as the sixth singles match of the event began just as the other three undecided matches entered into their decisive final sets. After two singles losses, Vanderbilt needed to win three of the four remaining matches to take the victory.

On Court 3, Cox opened the third set with a 3-0 lead, but Moreno quickly battled back to tighten the match. At one point, Cox and Panarin held narrow 4-3 leads in their third sets, while Coquelin held a 5-0 lead in his first set.

After Ross fell to Auburn’s Raul Dobai, losing 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, Vanderbilt needed to sweep the final three matches to take the victory.

Cox was the first Commodore to breakthrough, as his 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 win on Court 3 gave Vanderbilt its first singles victory of the day.

“I want to highlight Nathan Cox today,” Brown said. “[This was] the grittiest performance I’ve seen from him. He was under the weather, and he chose to play and be there for his guys. He’s had a rough last couple of two or three weeks with some gut-check moments. I’m proud of how he has responded and how he came out today. The reason we won today is because he kept us in the match.”

About fifteen minutes later, Panarin won his match, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4. With Vanderbilt and Auburn tied 3-3 in points, it came down to Court 5, where Coquelin had won the first set 6-1 against Auburn’s Nicholas Heng. Heng put up a fight, winning two match points in the second set to cut Coquelin’s second set lead to 5-4. Ultimately, however, 3 hours and 40 minutes after the event began, Vanderbilt was victorious, as Coquelin triumphed 6-1, 6-4.

“In singles, to be honest, I thought we came out a little flat on three of the courts,” Brown said. “But I am really proud of our guys, even though we had a slow start, which we are going to address. They are resilient, and they stayed the course. They hung in there and bit back and gave themselves a chance. In the third sets, it’s anybody’s match at that point.”.

To finish out the weekend, Vanderbilt hosted No. 9 Tennessee on Sunday. The Commodores suffered a 1-6 defeat, with Klopper earning Vanderbilt’s sole point with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 40 Shunsuke Mitsui.

The Commodores will next compete in an away match against No. 10 Texas A&M on Friday at 1 p.m. CDT.

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About the Contributor
Katelyn Rowan
Katelyn Rowan, Staff Writer
Katelyn Rowan (‘27) is planning to major in English and history in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her watching football, baseball or film adaptations of Jane Austen books, which she also rereads whenever she gets the chance. You can reach her at [email protected].
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