Vanderbilt falls short against Texas A&M in a 4-1 defeat

Vanderbilt women’s tennis fell short inn a matchup with Texas A&M on Saturday.

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Vanderbilt’s Amanda Meyer narrowly lost her matchup with Texas A&M’s Jessica Anzo. (Twitter/@VandyWTennis)

Jonah Crist

The Commodores narrowly secured the doubles point against the Aggies, but slipped behind in the singles matches, ultimately falling 4-1.

“We dug holes and on one court didn’t get out of it at all and on another court did, down to the last point. We knew they would regroup in singles and come at us—and they did,” Coach Aleke Tsoubanos said.

In an SEC matchup between the No. 14 Vanderbilt Commodores and the No. 27 Texas A&M Aggies, the Commodores struggled to execute in their singles matches after coming away with the doubles point, leading to the 4-1 defeat. 

Vanderbilt’s Anna Ross and Holly Staff lost the first doubles match to No. 39 Jayci Goldsmith and No. 64 Tatiana Makarova in an entertaining yet lopsided 6-1 defeat. Despite the score, Staff’s powerful serve was hard to counter for the Aggies, especially on second-serve opportunities.

The Commodore duo of No. 20 Christina Rosca and Anessa Lee responded with a decisive 6-3 victory over the Aggies’ Jessica Anzo and Katya Townsend. The set was close until the 3-4 mark, when Townsend missed a slam at 40-40. The match was decided in the following game when Townsend went long on return, again in a 40-40 situation.

As the other teams split their first two doubles matches, Emma Kurtz and Marcella Cruz faced off with Renee McBryde and Dorthea Faa-Hviding on Court Two. It was a highly competitive match, going back and forth with long volleys. Cruz nearly put away the match at 5-4 in her service game, as she came back to 40-40 from 40-15. But the Aggies prevented the comeback, and the teams traded games until they reached a tiebreak. Kurtz and Cruz jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak, not looking back despite what was at one point a 6-4 margin. The doubles point was won when Kurtz cut the ball off at the net and split the Aggie duo after a long volley between Cruz and McBryde. 

“We were lucky to win the doubles point, quite frankly,” Coach Tsoubanos said.

In singles, two ranked players in Rosca and Makarova faced off on Court One. Makarova came out with a strong start, winning six of the first seven games on the way to a first set victory. Rosca rallied to tie up the second set 2-2, but Makarova proceeded to win the four of the last five games along with the match.

After her doubles heroics, Emma Kurtz was paired against Jayci Goldsmith. Kurtz fell behind her ranked opponent 2-5 in the first set, but managed to win the next two sets before Goldsmith got away. In the second set, Goldsmith carried that momentum toward a speedy 6-1 defeat. 

On Court Three, Holly Staff faced Katya Townsend in what was a passionate and vocal match. Both players fought for every point and demonstrated tremendous range in their game. Staff fell behind 1-4 early due to some trouble with her serve, but was able to mount a comeback by cutting through a few shots that Townsend floated, which brought it to 4-5 before Townsend pulled away. The intensity of this match continued into the second set, as the two players tied at 2-2, and Staff brought it to 3-4 but Townsend was able to pull away again, winning the second set 6-3.

The dramatic doubles finish for Marcella Cruz was just the beginning, as her match with Renee McBryde became the focus of all in the audience at the Currey Center. Cruz found herself down 2-5 in the first set, then managed to win three straight games to tie it at 5-5. Cruz and McBryde traded games and began their tiebreak, running up the points until Cruz double-faulted into a 7-9 defeat. After the lengthy first set, two of the other matches had already been decided. Cruz came out strong in the second set but soon found herself working from behind and McBryde pulled away 6-3 to end the day for every player involved. 

Anessa Lee played against Dorthea Faa-Hviding on Court Four, but their match did not reach a conclusion due to the match-up being called at 4-1 in the middle of their third set. In the first set, Lee struggled to continue her success from doubles as she dropped six of the first seven games. Lee rebounded to control the second set 6-3 over Faa-Hviding, and continued to keep the decisive set close at 4-5 before it was called.

On Court Six, Amanda Meyer and Jessica Anzo also had their match called early due to score. It appeared early that Meyer would be the first to close out her opponent after a dominant 6-0 first set. But Anzo was able to respond with a competitive 6-4 second set victory. The third set featured another close finish as Meyer carried a 6-5 lead into the end of the match-up, nearly coming away with the victory.

“We were in it, but it felt like we were always trying to make things come through from behind. It happens, that’s what the conference is like this year. I don’t think we played our best duel,” Coach Tsoubanos said with regard to the nature of the loss.

Next up, the Commodores will have to play their best as they face a high-powered No.3 Georgia Bulldogs team led by four-time SEC Player of the Week Katarina Jokic on Friday, March 26 at 3:00 p.m. CT.