NASHVILLE, TENN. -- In a match that lived up to its billing, Columbia defeated Vanderbilt 4-3 in front of a raucous crowd at the Currey Tennis Center on Sunday afternoon.
Winston Lin’s toughness showed in a gritty, three-set match at No. 1 singles, so did Columbia’s.
The Lions were down 1-0 after losing the doubles point. Lin and Mike Vermeer won easily at No. 3 8-2 while No. 12 Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur lost to the No. 4 doubles team of Austin Gonzales and Ryan Lipman at No. 1. Bert Vancura and Richard Pham lost at No. 2 doubles 8-7 (7-2) in a tie-breaker that extended doubles play for a full hour.
Vameer won his first set at No. 6 rather quickly 6-1. Lin lost his first set to Gonzales 6-2 shortly thereafter, as did Schnur at No. 2 (6-3). Vancura took his first set 6-4, but Drago Ignat and Ashok Narayana’s first sets at No. 3 and No. 4 were much longer. Narayana pulled out a gritty tie-break win 7-6 (7-4), while Ignat lost 7-5. Lin won his second set 6-3 to send No. 1 singles to a third.
At that point, Columbia had started to pull away at No. 5 and No. 6. Vermeer was cruising in the second set before Ryan Smith came back and went up 5-4. As Vermeer tried to close out his match, Vancura was up two breaks at No. 5. Vancura won his second set 6-3 just seconds before Vermeer clinched his match at 7-5 to give Columbia the 2-1 lead.
“It was really important for us to win those two matches,” Vermeer said. “Going up 2-1 gives a lot of energy to the others guys to keep fighting.”
Schnur continued to rally on court No. 2, sending his second set to a tie breaker. As Schnur lost 6-3, 7-6 (2) at No. 2, Narayana was battling leg cramps up two breaks at No. 4. As Narayana put his match away with the 6-4 win in the second set, Lin was up 4-0 in the third set at No. 1, with Ignat still in the second set at No. 3.
“I started to cramp at 4-0,” Lin said. “I’ve been sick, so I wasn’t hydrated enough. I had to choose my moments when to expend energy. I gave up games when he served, and I put it all out there when I served. At 5-2 [Gonzales] started playing really well. I think he knew I was cramping but there was nothing I could do. When I was serving at 5-4, I was just hoping I could battle. It was a crazy, tough match.”
Up 5-4, Lin served for the set and the match, sending Columbia to the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time in school history and just the second time in Ivy League history.