Transfers Add Power, Depth to Tennis Lineup
By Harold Huggins
Losing only one player off last year's squad, the Vanderbilt men's tennis
team was already expecting to be much improved over last year.
But with the addition of transfers Matthew Lockin and Jens Pilgram-Larsen,
Commodores should be even better yet and appear virtually certain to improve
on year's 11-14 mark. One is homegrown, another from faraway Norway.
The 6-5 Lockin, of Lilburn, Ga., is a transfer from Michigan and should
immediate impact to the Commodores, who were invited to the NCAA team
tournament for the second straight year last May.
"Actually, I was born in (Nashville's) Baptist Hospital, so I guess
I'm really coming home,'' Lockin said, laughing, just prior to the Commodores
departure for the SEC Indoor Championships in Atlanta. "My family moved
to Georgia when I was seven.'' Things didn't work out for Lockin at Michigan,
although he had an impressive 27-11 freshman record for the Wolverines.
The 27 wins ranks second all-time among Michigan freshmen behind only eventual
All-American Malivia Washington (37 in 1988).
"I guess it would be easy to say I was unhappy with the weather,''
said Lockin. "But it was actually a situation where I didn't think
the team was as focused and as serious as it needed to be.
"I was looking to transfer out, and I looked at Florida State, Georgia
Tech, Kentucky, also Tennessee and Georgia, besides Vanderbilt,'' he said.
"What it came down to was being able to play for Coach (Ken) Flach
with his international experience and the great academics Vanderbilt has.''
Lockin, who is a sophomore, would be projected by collegiate ranking to
play as high as No. 3 in the Vanderbilt lineup.
With All-American Bobby Reynolds and Chad Harris ranked No. 8 and No. 14
in the pre-season rankings penciled in at No. 1 and 2, Lockin is the next
highest ranked Commodore at No. 99 (and 28th in the Southeast Region).
"Bobby and Chad are definitely our No. 1 and 2,'' he said. "I'd
like to play possibly as high as No. 3 or 4 (singles),'' said Lockin who
was selected for 2000 Junior Davis Cup and was ranked No. 12 in nationally
in his final year of juniors.
"But I'll be happy to play anywhere in this (Vanderbilt) lineup, because
we're solid everywhere,'' said Lockin, an economics major.
The No. 29-ranked Commodores hope to improve on last year's 1-10 SEC record,
which was a bit misleading as it included four 4-3 losses. Three of them
were to No. 2 ranked Georgia, No. 14-ranked Florida and No. 21 Alabama.
Meanwhile, Pilgram-Larsen, a native of Oslo, Norway, arrives from the University
of Stony Brook where he finished his first two collegiate years.
"I enjoyed my time at Stony Brook, but I was looking to play at a
higher level,'' said the 5-11 Pilgram-Larsen, a junior. "I looked at
Cal-Berkeley, Virginia Tech along with Maryland before deciding on Vanderbilt.
"I met some of the guys at (NCAA) Regionals last May and really liked
them and the school. My first year, I am hoping to play at No. 5 or 6 singles
and possibly No. 2 or 3 doubles,'' he said. "I still have a lot to
learn. We have a lot of depth on the team, which is one of our biggest strong
Pilgram-Larsen, a computer engineering major, played No. 1 singles and
doubles for Stony Brook, compiling a 12-10 singles record, 12-8 in doubles.
"The addition of Matthew and Jens solidifies our lineup and gives
us additional depth,'' said Flach, who is in his seventh season as Vanderbilt
coach and winner six Grand Slam doubles titles, also compiling an 11-2 Davis
Cup doubles record with Robert Seguso.
"Matt is someone who should be have an immediate impact on our team,
fortunate he chose us over some very good schools. He brings a lot of enthusiasm
to our team.
"Jens is someone who came from a small school and is a very good doubles
player,'' Flach added. "He has some international experience which
is a big help.''
Then Flach added, smiling, "You know, with so many teams having all
the foreigners on their team, they usually have their token American. With
us, we have our "token" foreigner, Jens. He gets kidded about
it, but he's good with it.''
The Commodores open their regular spring season on Jan. 25 with two matches
against Tennessee-Martin at 11 a.m. and UT-Chattanooga at 3 p.m. at the