May 14, 2010

Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

The Vanderbilt women’s tennis team won the first three singles matches of the day after winning a tight doubles point, to cruise to a 4-0 victory over Indiana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday.

Hannah Blatt, Catherine Newman and Rachael Dillon tallied straight-set wins in singles as the Commodores advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons.

The Commodores (14-9) got on the scoreboard first when they took two of three doubles matches from Indiana (15-10). Vanderbilt’s No. 1 tandem of Chelsea Preeg and Jackie Wu needed little time to get by Lindsey Stuckey and Evgeniya Verteshva on court one, as the sophomore duo won eight of the nine contested games for the 8-1 victory. With the win, Preeg and Wu moved to 28-9 on the year, including 11-5 in dual play.

Following a loss on court three, the doubles point came down to the wire as Erica Robertson and Newman were in a tight battle with IU’s Leslie Hureau and Myriam Sopel on court two. With Indiana jumping out to a 5-3 lead on court two, things looked to be going the Hoosiers way before Newman and Robertson stormed back to win the next four games to go up 7-5. With VU on the verge of clinching the doubles point, IU battled back to win the next two games to tie the match at 7-all before Newman and Robertson outlasted the Hoosier pair, 9-7, giving Vanderbilt the doubles point.

“The doubles point was really pivotal for momentum,” head coach Geoff Macdonald said. “I thought we played great at No. 1 and then Erica and Catherine played well under pressure to win the match and clinch the double point.”

Vanderbilt rode the momentum from winning the doubles point into singles play as they quickly won five of the first six opening sets. The ‘Dores extended its lead to 2-0, when Hannah Blatt made quick work of Sopel, winning 6-0, 6-1 for her sixth straight win at No. 6. With the win, Blatt improved to 26-12 on the year, including a 15-4 mark in dual play.

Minutes later, Newman gave Vanderbilt a 3-0 lead when she defeated IU’s top-player Vertesheva in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) at No. 1 for her 27th overall and 15th dual win of the season.

Within five minutes of Newman winning, Rachael Dillon clinched the match for the Commodores with an impressive consecutive set victory (6-2, 6-2) over Charlotte Martin at No. 5 for her fifth straight win.

“I thought we started strong in singles and we were able to win a lot of first sets,” Macdonald said. “We made it seem as though it would be a long and hard day for Indiana to come back and they’re a good team so it’s important to get out to a comfortable lead.”

Dillon’s match-clinching victory secures the ‘Dores a spot in tomorrow’s NCAA second round where they will face the winner of regional-host Tennessee and Winthrop. Vanderbilt’s match on Saturday will start at 2 p.m. CT.

Vanderbilt improved to 14-2 all-time in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and carries a 33-15 all-time mark in the NCAA Tournament into Saturday’s second round.