"This win was big," Vanderbilt head coach Ken Flach said. "Winning the SEC Championships was awesome, but the NCAAs and postseason is what it's all about. If we would have lost today, I think this season would have been somewhat of a disappointment. I've been stressing to this team that they are good enough to win, and go to the Sweet 16. I'm elated and just thrilled for this team."
This was the first time the Commodores have advanced past the second round of the tournament. Vanderbilt will now have a showdown with 10th-ranked Texas A&M on Saturday, May 17, at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. The NCAA has not released times for the eight third round matches.
The hero of Sunday's match was junior Bobby Reynolds. With the Commodores leading the team score 3-2 and junior Chad Harris trailing at the No. 2 singles position, Reynolds battled back from a break of serve down in the third set to Calle Hansen to give the Commodores the victory.
Reynolds came out quickly to start the match, as he won the first set, 6-1. He broke Hansen in the first game of the second set and seemed to be in the driver seat, but Hansen would not fold. Hansen was able to break back in the next game and still another break later on to take the second set, 6-3. Hansen carried the momentum into the final set and was able to race out to a 4-2 lead. After cutting the deficit to 4-3, Reynolds dug down deep to finally break back and get the match back on serve. With all the momentum on his side, Reynolds won the next two games and the match.
"Bobby was huge, just huge," Flach said. "He dug down and played great when we really needed him. It's amazing how much heart he has. He was down a break in the third (set) and know his team needed him. He simply put us on his neck, like he has all year."
Prior to the start of singles, the Commodores set the early tone in doubles for what was to be an incredible dual match. Vanderbilt won its 22nd doubles point of the year, as the Commodores scored victories at No. 1 and No. 3. Juniors Zach Dailey and Lewie continued their outstanding play at No. 3, as they defeated Alexis Rafidison and Kevin Borzenski, 8-4. The point was wrapped up when Reynolds and sophomore Scott Brown defeated Hansen and Diego Acuna, 8-3.
With the early momentum on the Commodores' side, Pepperdine would not go away. The Waves picked up two quick wins at the No. 3 and No. 4 positions to take a 2-1 lead in the team score. Acuna used an incredible baseline game to defeat Vanderbilt sophomore Matt Lockin, 6-3, 6-1. Their other win would come from Scott Doerner, as he defeated Brown, 6-2, 6-0.
"For a moment there, I thought it was our match," Pepperdine head coach Adam Steinberg said. "We played hard, about as good as we could."
With Vanderbilt's back against the wall, Smith continued his dominance at the No. 6 position. He defeated Borzenski in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, to pick his 26th singles victory of the year.
Dailey would give the Commodores a 3-2 advantage by defeating Rafidison in a lopsided three-set match, 6-2, 0-6, 6-0. With the win, he is now 21-3 in dual matches this season.