Women’s tennis: Vanderbilt falls short against Georgia, 4-2

The No. 16 Vanderbilt Commodores were defeated by the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs on Senior Day.

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Marcella Cruz and Emma Kurtz celebrate their doubles victory over Georgia on March 28, 2021. (Twitter/@VandyWTennis)

Jonah Crist and Frankie Sheehy

The Commodores came back to win the doubles point but dropped four singles matches to lose the match 4-2. Senior Lauren Gish and fifth-years Emma Kurtz and Christina Rosca were honored before their final home match at Vanderbilt.

“They’ve contributed mightily to a lot of our success recently, and we’ll certainly miss them,” head coach Aleke Tsoubanos said of the seniors.

Court Two saw Kurtz and sophomore Marcella Cruz pitted against the Bulldogs’ Morgan Coppoc and Elena Christofi in a doubles match. The Commodores scored a much needed break to take a 2-1 lead. Kurtz and Cruz went on to take their set 6-4.

Rosca and freshman Anessa Lee faced Georgia’s Meg Kowalski and Lea Ma on Court Three. The Bulldogs won the first four games, and the outlook appeared to be bleak for the Commodores. But Rosca and Lee mounted a remarkable comeback, winning the next six games to take their set and clinch the doubles point for Vanderbilt. 

“They came back and they’ve done that before so that wasn’t a surprise,” Tsoubanos said of the duo.

On Court One of doubles, sophomore Anna Ross and freshman Holly Staff took on Georgia’s Katarina Jokic and Ariana Arseneault. The teams split the first two games, but then the Commodores lost three straight and trailed 4-2. Their set was tied 5-5 when Vanderbilt secured the overall doubles victory on the other courts.

In singles play, Vanderbilt sophomore Dasha Kourkina faced Christofi on Court Six. Kourkina dropped the first set 6-1. She had a better start in set two, leading 3-1, but fell 6-4 to tie the match for Georgia at 1-1.

Court Three saw Ross taking on Kowalski. Ross was a point away from forcing a tiebreak, but she lost the first set 7-5. Ross lost the first five games of the second set, and fell 6-1 to put the Bulldogs in front in the team match.

Kurtz faced Ma in her final home singles match on Court Two. Kurtz won a difficult tiebreak 9-7 to take the first set 7-6. She carried her momentum into the second set to win 6-4 and tie the overall match 2-2.

Lee was paired against Coppoc on Court Four, where she opened with a 6-4 win in the first set. Lee then went on a run to win four straight games, only for Coppoc to take the next six and force a third set. Coppoc won the final set 6-1 to put Georgia back in front 3-2.

Rosca looked to continue her run on singles Court One against Jokic. The first set was tight, but Jokic prevailed 6-4. Rosca took a 3-2 lead in the second set and went on to win 6-4 to force a third set. Up 2-0, Jokic took a fall and appeared injured, but she played on. Rosca eventually trailed 4-2, needing a win to keep the Commodores alive. Rosca survived a game point with a shot between her legs and made the score 4-3. But it was not to be, as Jokic won the next two games to secure the Bulldogs’ 4-2 win.

On Court Five, Cruz battled against Georgia’s Marta Gonzalez. Cruz began the first set at a 4-1 deficit but came back to win in tiebreak. Right after Kurtz’s win, Cruz had two match points, but her opponent survived to force another tiebreak. Gonzalez won the tiebreak 10-8 to force a final set, which was not played after Georgia secured the victory.

“We put ourselves in a position to win, and I was so proud of the effort,” Tsoubanos said. “Certainly we lost those four singles matches but overall, that duel was a matter of a handful of points.”

The Georgia Bulldogs remain undefeated in conference play following their victory. Next up, the Commodores will begin a four-match SEC road trip starting with a showdown against South Carolina on April 1 at 4 pm CT.