Tennis: Vandy men advance to SEC finals

OXFORD, Miss. - The eighth-ranked Vanderbilt men's tennis team (21-3) is now only one step away from earning its first ever Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship, as the Commodores shocked sixth-ranked and tournament host Mississippi (18-4), 4-1, on Saturday afternoon at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. It was the second time this season Vanderbilt has defeated Mississippi in Oxford.

With Saturday's win, the Commodores will advance to the finals to take on No. 2-ranked and tournament top-seed Florida at 2 p.m. (CST) Sunday in Oxford. The Commodores will be looking to avenge their 4-3 loss to the Gators back on March 16 in Gainesville.

The Commodores got things going, as they continued their dominance in doubles. The Commodores won the critical point for the 20th time in 23 opportunities this season. Junior Zach Dailey and sophomore Scott Brown locked up the point for the 'Dores, as they defeated Patrick Chucri and Karim Alayli, 8-6, at the No. 3 position. For Dailey and Brown, it was the second-straight day the duo has clinched the doubles' point for Vanderbilt.

The first victory in doubles came at the No. 2 position, as junior Chad Harris and sophomore Matt Lockin improved to 6-0 on the season. Harris and Lockin defeated Paul Ciorascu and Catalin Gard, 8-5. Juniors Bobby Reynolds and Lewie Smith had their match with 11th-ranked Alex Hartman and Claes Lindholm suspended at 6-6, as the Commodores had already clinched the point.

Vanderbilt's second point of the afternoon came at the No. 4 position, as reliable Dailey continued his outstanding play. Dailey picked up a straight-set win over Patrick Chucri, 6-4, 6-4. Dailey has now won nine-consecutive matches and is 19-3 during the dual-match season. He is also 13-2 at the No. 4 position in dual matches.

The Commodores earned their third point against Ole Miss when Smith defeated Alayli at the No. 6 position in one of the strangest matches of the afternoon. Smith grabbed the early advantage in the match, as he won the first set, 6-3. However, Alayli picked up his level of play in the second, as he won a lopsided second set, 6-0. With all the momentum on Alayli's side, Smith reached deep down inside to pull out the third and decisive set, 6-4. With the win, Smith improves his dual-match record to 18-3.

The decisive point came from Brown, who pulled out one of the biggest victories of his career. After dropping the first set to Lindholm, 6-2, Brown battled back to force the second-set to a tiebreaker, which he won 7-3. With all the momentum on his side, Brown was able to use an early break of serve in the final set and hold on to win it, 6-3.

Reynolds and Harris' matches were suspended in their final sets. Both players were up 5-3 in their matches to Hartman and Gard, respectively, before they were stopped.

#2 Vanderbilt 4, #3 Ole Miss 1 

#1 Alex Hartman (OM) vs. Bobby Reynolds (VU) 6-7(5), 6-1, 3-5 
#2 Catalin Gard (OM) vs. Chad Harris (VU) 3-6, 6-2, 3-5 
#3 Paul Ciorascu (OM) def. Matt Lockin (VU) 6-4, 6-4 
#4 Scott Brown (VU) def. Claes Lindholm (OM) 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 
#5 Zach Dailey (VU) def. Patrick Chucri (OM) 6-4, 6-4 
#6 Lewis Smith (VU) def. Karim Alayli (OM) 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 

#1 Hartman-Lindholm (OM) vs. Reynolds-Smith (VU) 6-6, sus. 
#2 Harris-Lockin (VU) def. Gard-Ciorascu (OM) 8-5 
#3 Brown-Dailey (VU) def. Chucri-Alayli (OM) 8-6 

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