Columbia gets program's first NCAA tourney win in sweep of East Tenn. St.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Columbia notched its first win in the NCAA tournament with a 4-0 victory against East Tennessee State at Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon.
"This is certainly an accomplishment if you look at the history of the program," associate head coach Howard Endelman said. "But this is a team that has focused on one match at a time the entire year, and trying to do the little things right. While this is a milestone, winning one match in the NCAA tournament has never been our goal. This does show that if they team puts their minds to things, and do the little things right every day, the sky is the limit."
The Lions won the doubles point with wins at Nos. 3 and 1 doubles. Winson Lin and Mike Vermeer defeated Sebastian Yllera and Connor Huertas 8-3 for the first win. Bert Vancura and Richard Pham were knotted up at 6-6 when Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur defeated Diego Nunez and Ismael Merino 8-6 at No. 1 doubles to take the point.
Narayana and Schnur were down two breaks, 1-0 and 2-1, but came back to take a 6-3 lead. ETSU battled back, breaking twice, to tie it at 6-6 before Narayana and Schnur held and broke for the 8-6 win, and to clinch the doubles point.
In singles, ETSU came out with a lot of energy, while the Lions started out slow, but built quickly. Dragos Ignat defeteated Sebastian Yllera 6-1, 6-1, cruising in a match that lasted just more than an hour.
Ignat finished just minutes before Narayana at No. 4, who defeated Ismael Merino 6-1, 6-2, giving the Lions the 3-0 lead. The Lions were down sets at Nos. 1, 2 and 5, but each were battling in the second set. Vermeer was up 2-0 in the first set at No. 6, then fell behind 3-2 before cruising to the 6-3 first-set final.
Vermeer went on to win the second set 6-2 to clinch the match for the Lions.
"I thought Dragos played a terrific match at three, which was really tough because he was recovering from an injury last week. He came out and played really well," Endelman said. "Narayana was all over his opponent from the beginning, and Mike Vermeer, is undefeated at No. 6, and he was his normal self for us to get those four points."