Women’s Tennis: Recapping the Music City Scramble

Last weekend, Vanderbilt competed in the Music City Scramble, one of three tournaments scheduled for the fall season.

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The Vanderbilt Women’s Tennis Team faces off against Nebraska on Friday, January 26, 2018. (Hustler Multimedia/Brent Szklaruk)

Bobby Kent, Staff Writer

Vanderbilt women’s tennis took the court for the first time this season at the Music City Scramble, the first of three fall season competitions, from Oct. 9-11. The tournament featured matchups against SEC opponents Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee, with Vanderbilt’s singles and doubles seeing plenty of action at Vanderbilt’s Currey Tennis Center. The Commodores went 2-1 in singles play and 0-1-2 in doubles play.  

The Commodores concluded  their abbreviated  2019 season with a 7-3 overall record and rank of 15th nationally. The team did not participate in postseason play due to the NCAA’s cancellation of all spring sports championships as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

On Friday, Vanderbilt faced Auburn in doubles and Tennessee in singles. While sophomore Marcela Cruz led the charge in singles, defeating her opponent in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, for one of two Commodore singles wins, the rest of the matches were closely contested;two of the singles matches  went  into a third set. Freshman Holly Staff alo picked up her first win as a Commodore, pulling out a three-setter, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5. 

Another bright spot of the singles session was graduate student Emma Kurtz’s performance in a “makeup” match against a Tennessee player who could not play Auburn on Saturday. Despite losing her match to Auburn’s Selin Ovunc after leading one set to none, Kurtz came back with a fire, capturing the match in straight sets. 

“She played really, really well. She was aggressive. She was looking for opportunities. She was the most opportunistic I’ve seen her all weekend,”  head coach Alexa Tsousbanos said. 

Later in the day, Vanderbilt split doubles play with Tennessee 2-2. 

When Saturday’s matches were forced inside due to rain from Hurricane Delta, the Commodores were met with challenges, according to Tsousbanos.

“The other challenge when you are indoors is making sure you are warm and ready to go on.”

Tsoubanos also pointed to regulations regarding social distancing, mask wearing and designated areas for teams as new obstacles for her team due to the pandemic but said the athletes handled it all in stride. 

“I think all the student athletes handled that really well. It was nice to have a weekend where everyone was grateful to be playing.” 

As for the action on the court, Vanderbilt faced off with Ole Miss in singles, prevailing 4-1. Like Staff the day prior, freshman Anessa Lee picked up her first Vanderbilt win, in straight sets. Tsousbanos mentioned that she started to find her footing and praised both freshmen’s attitudes.

“We saw a lot of grit and determination from both of them, which is really what every coach wants to see when you have freshman,” Tsousbanos said.

Cruz and Kurtz continued to roll, both winning in straight sets with senior Amanda Meyer also picking up her first win of the weekend. 

On the final day of action, Vanderbilt matched up with Tennessee for singles, which saw them earn their second victory of the weekend over the Volunteers, 3-2. Kurtz capped off an undefeated weekend, while Staff and Lee picked up their second wins of their young careers, all in straight sets. Despite the loss, Tsousbanos praised Cruz’s competitiveness.

“She’s learning a lot,” Tsousbanos said. “She’s trying to improve the areas of her game where she’s a little more deficient. And she’s very open to coaching.” 

On the doubles side, Vanderbilt closed the weekend with a 1-1 draw against Auburn. 

Overall, Tsoubanos was pleased with the effort and the direction of her squad as the Commodores look toward the next two fall competitions. 

“Under the circumstances, I think we’re in a pretty good place. I think I can say for almost [match] we competed so well. So that’s really pleasing to me that we’re in a really competitive arena in the SEC and we are handling that really well,” Tsoubanos said. 

Additionally, the Music City Scramble proved to be a great experience for both younger and older players as they prepare for the season. 

“They’re all just excited to be out there again, and took advantage of great competition,” Tsoubanos said.

The Commodores will travel to Knoxville  Oct. 16-18 for the second fall season competition, the UT Fall Invite and face Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina.