By virtue of its 4-0 victory over No. 21-ranked Notre Dame (16-9) on Saturday at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center, the 15th-ranked Vanderbilt women's tennis team (20-5) will advance to its sixth-straight NCAA Sweet 16. The tournament kicks off Thursday, May 15, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville.
The Commodores will find out their opponent on Sunday, as they will play the winner of the Tennessee/Virginia match. Vanderbilt dropped both meetings to Tennessee this season, while it defeated Virginia back on January 18 in Nashville.
One of the stars on Saturday for Vanderbilt was sophomore Annie Menees, who went 2-0 in her matches. Menees joined forces with junior Kori Scott at the No. 3 doubles position to defeat Caylan Leslie and Jen Smith, 8-5, to give the 'Dores the point clinching victory. Menees then came back in singles to give head coach Geoff Macdonald's squad the team victory, as she defeated Smith, 6-3, 6-1, at the No. 6 singles spot.
Junior Kelly Schmandt and sophomore Audra Falk won the first doubles match for Vanderbilt. The nation's 37th-ranked team had no problems in defeating Sarah Jane Connelly and Kristina Stastny at the No. 2 position, 8-2. Notre Dame did pick up a big win at the top doubles position, as Lauren Connelly and Alicia Salas upset Vanderbilt third-ranked team of Sarah Riske and Aleke Tsoubanos, 8-4.
Falk gave Vanderbilt its first singles win of the afternoon, as she crusied by Sarah Jane Connelly in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. With the win, Falk improves to 23-4 on the year and 17-4 in dual matches.
Freshman Ashley Schellhas notched her team-leading 25th singles win of the year, as she held off Lauren Connelly, 6-3, 6-3. Schellhas has won 25 of 29 singles matches in 2002-03.
The Vanderbilt University women's golf team earned its second consecutive NCAA Championship appearance Saturday when it closed out the NCAA Division I Women's East Regional with a strong finish that left it in a tie for second place.
The Commodores' final round total of 282 (2-under) was the third best single round by any team during the three-day event at the 6,116-yard, par-71 Salem Glen Country Club. Juniors Courtney Wood and Sarah Jacobs and senior Nikki Cutler all broke par for the final round during which VU outperformed regional champion and top-ranked Duke University. Wood and Jacobs both finished in the top 10 in the individual standings.
Vanderbilt and the University of Georgia each finished 13-over par, eight shots behind Duke and in a tie for runner-up honors. The Commodores started the round alone in second place and gained a shot on Duke. Auburn University was fourth, two shots back, and the University of Arizona was fifth.
"We were paired with the number-one ranked team," coach Martha Freitag said. "We may not have beat them in the tournament but we didn't flinch and we beat them when we were head-to-head with them. That gives us a lot of confidence going into the NCAA Tournament next week." Wood made three birdies and a bogey on her way to a 69, her second straight round under par. She finished the event tied for seventh.
Jacobs and Cutler each shot 70. Jacobs made consecutive birdies on 12 and 13 as she went 2-under on the back nine. Cutler gave back a pair of early birdies with bogies on 13 and 15, but answered with a birdie on 16. Jacobs finished alone in 10th, and Cutler was tied for 18th. Freshman May Wood completed the scoring for the Commodores with a 73 that left her tied for 26th. VU's fifth competitor, sophomore Joni Gossett, shot 80.
"We've played great all spring but we're putting it together right now, and I couldn't be more proud," Freitag added. "We've shown that we can play with the best teams in the country and we're one of them."
The sixth-ranked Vanderbilt men's tennis team (23-3) survived an early scare from in-state foe Tennessee Tech (15-10) on Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. With their 4-1 victory over the Golden Eagles, the Commodores will now advance to Sunday's second round against Pepperdine at 12 p.m. at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center.
The Waves of Pepperdine (17-10) defeated Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State, 4-1, prior to the Vanderbilt-Tennessee Tech match. Sunday's meeting will be the first match between Vanderbilt and Pepperdine.
The Commodores, who are now 4-0 in NCAA First Round matches, came out a little sluggish in the doubles competition, as the Golden Eagles shocked the large Currey Center crowd by taking the critical doubles point. For Vanderbilt, it was only the fourth time in 25 matches it has lost the doubles point.
Juniors Zach Dailey and Lewie Smith were the first to get off the court in doubles, as they easily defeated Rodrigo Cuesta and Michele Panzeri, 8-1. Dailey and Smith are a perfect 5-0 since teaming up against Auburn back on April 4.
The Golden Eagles scored two big upset victories at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions. Junior Bobby Reynolds and sophomore Scott Brown fell to Gernut Fischer and Luis Aguerrevere at the No. 1 spot, 8-6. Tennessee Tech clinched the point at the No. 2 position, as Razvan Ilie and Will Chappel defeated junior Chad Harris and Matt Lockin in the tiebreaker 9-8 (5).
After dropping the doubles point, the Commodores didn't waste any time in regaining control of the match. Dailey locked up the first point for the 'Dores, as he cruised by Cuesta in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2, at the No. 5 position. With the win, Dailey improves to 20-3 in dual matches this season.
Brown kept things rolling at the No. 4 position, as he defeated Knoxville, Tenn. native Will Chappel in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. The All-SEC Second Team member notched his 19th win of the year on Saturday.
Smith was the next one to exit off the court, as he defeated Panzeri with no troubles, 6-2, 6-1. For the Memphis native, it was his 25th win of the 2002-03 season.
Lockin sealed the match for the Commodores, as he defeated Ilie in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, at the No. 3 spot. Lockin, who also was named to the All-SEC second team, picked up his 26th win of the year.
Reynolds and Harris were not able to finish their matches at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, respectively. Both players were up a set in their matches.