"I was very impressed with the performance of our top four singles players today," said Vanderbilt head coach Geoff Macdonald. "Following what was a very disappointing doubles match, I thought those four just played tough, inspired tennis. I'm extremely proud of their effort."
At approximately 7:20 p.m. ET, about an hour and 20 minutes after the scheduled starting time, the Commodores finally took to the courts and promptly lost the doubles point for only the sixth time this season. Entering tonight's action, the Black and Gold's dual match record this season when losing the doubles portion of the match was only 2-3.
VU sophomore Ashley Schellas and freshman Amanda Fish got doubles off to a promising start for the ‘Dores by making easy work of the Tennessee duo of Sabita Maharaj and Blakeley Griffith by an 8-2 count.
However, juniors Annie Menees and Audra Falk suffered a tough 8-6 loss to Tennessee's Breanna Kray and Ashley Robards, and the nation's second-ranked doubles duo of seniors Aleke Tsoubanos and Kelly Schmandt fell to the Orange & White's Tammy Encina and Majen Immink by an 8-5 count as UT grabbed the opening point.
Vanderbilt immediately began to turn things around when the singles portion finally opened following a 20-minute delay due to problems with the court lighting. Only four of the six McWhorter Courts were available for use due to a power outage that struck the entire complex. Homestanding Georgia was actually forced into their indoor facility when the lighting completely failed on the main Henry Feild Courts.
Freshman Amanda Fish knotted the team score at 1-1 after her domination of UT's Blakeley Griffith at the number four position by a 6-1, 6-1 count. Junior Audra Falk added another tally for VU with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over UT's Encina in #1 singles.
The match of the evening was on court three as Vanderbilt's Aleke Tsoubanos and Tennessee's Ashley Robards needed three sets to settle the issue.
Tsoubanos took the opening set easily by a 6-2 count, but Robards immediately grabbed the momentum and roared to a 6-1 second set victory to force the decisive frame. The VU senior managed to fight back and took the final set 6-2 to clinch a very important point for the Commodores.
Sophomore Ashley Schellhas clinched the NCAA Elite Eight berth for the ‘Dores with a powerful 6-1, 6-1 rout of the Orange & White's Majen Immink at the number five position.
VU senior Kelly Schmandt trailed UT's Maharaj 6-7 (4), 5-5, while junior Annie Menees had taken the opening set over Tennessee's Victoria Jones, 6-2, when their matches were suspended.
Doubles Tsoubanos / Schmandt (2) 5 Encina / Immink 8 Falk / Menees (39) 6 Kray / Robards 8 Schellhas / Fish 8 Maharaj / Griffith 2 Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1 TENNESSEE wins doubles point Singles Audra Falk (13) 6 6 Tammy Encina (37) 2 3 Kelly Schmandt (61) 6 4 Sabita Maharaj (55) 7 5 Aleke Tsoubanos (120) 6 1 6 Ashley Robards 2 6 2 Amanda Fish 6 6 Blakely Griffith 1 1 Ashley Schellas 6 6 Majen Immink 1 1 Annie Menees 6 Victoria Jones 2 Order of Finish: 4,1,3, 5