Tennis Drops NCAA Finals Heartbreaker to Top-Ranked
Commodores conclude incredible run with
ATHENS, Ga. - The Vanderbilt men's tennis
team fell short in its attempt to win the school's first
team national title, as the Commodores fell to top-ranked
Illinois in the NCAA National Championship match, 4-3,
Tuesday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The Commodores conclude the 2003 season with an overall
mark of 27-4, while the Fighting Illini finish with
a perfect 32-0 mark. For Illinois, it was its first
national championship in men's tennis.
With the team score tied at 3-3, both team's hopes
rested on their No. 6 singles players. It was only fitting
for the match to come down to Vanderbilt junior Lewie
Smith and Illinois sophomore Chris Martin, who put on
an incredible show for the capacity crowd. Both players
split the first two sets, 4-6, 6-4.
With both players battling back and forth, Martin was
able to grab a break of serve in the fifth game to take
a 3-2 lead. With Martin leading 5-4, Smith was able
to win the first three points on Martin's serve. However,
Martin fought his way back into the game and got the
score to deuce. After Smith let another break point
slip by, Martin was able to grab a match point. During
the point, Martin hit a shot which seemed to go barely
deep, but when Smith called it out the official overruled
the call. The call ended up being the decisive point
in the match.
"The match wasn't won or lost on that one call,"
Vanderbilt head coach Ken Flach said. "We had other
chances but we fell short."
The Commodores started the match off by winning the
doubles point to grab the early advantage. Junior Bobby
Reynolds, who was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding
Player, and sophomore Scott Brown won the first match
for the Commodores, as they defeated 11th-ranked Amer
Delic and Michael Calkins, 8-5.
The clinching match in doubles was won by Smith and
junior Zach Dailey at No. 3 doubles. After falling behind
3-0 to Phil Stolt and Martin, Smith and Dailey roared
back to take a 4-3 lead - one it would not relinquish.
Smith and Dailey finish the year with a dual-match record
of 11-0. The Commodores finish the year having won 25
of 29 doubles points.
"Heading into the singles we had the momentum
and the adrenaline rush," Flach said. "After
that, we fell into a lull and that might have hurt us.
When we got out of our lull, it was just a little too
Vanderbilt two singles points came from Reynolds and
Harris at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, respectively.
Both players battled back from one-set deficits to win
their matches in three sets.
Reynolds defeated third-ranked Delic, 6-7, 6-4, 6-1,
while Harris came back to defeat 12th-ranked Brian Wilson,
2-6, 6-1, 7-5. Reynolds is now 44-6 overall in 2002-03
and finishes the dual-match season with a 25-1 mark.
Harris improves to 34-10 overall and 19-4 in dual matches.
Three of the Commodores four singles losses were decided
in three sets.
Reynolds and Harris were both named to the NCAA All-Tournament
team in singles. The No. 1 team of Reynolds and Brown
and the No. 3 team of Dailey and Smith were to the all-tournament
team in doubles.
Reynolds and Harris will be back in action Wednesday
for the first round of the NCAA Singles Championship.
Reynolds, who is the tournament's top seed, will take
on Illinois Phil Stolt. Harris, who is seeded 9-16 alphabetically,
will take on Illinois Rajeev Ram.
No. 7 Vanderbilt vs. No. 1 Illinois
May 20 • Athens, Ga. • Dan Magill Tennis
|Bobby Reynolds (#1)
||Amer Delic (#3)
||6-7, 6-4, 6-1
|Chad Harris (#16)
||Brian Wilson (#16)
||2-6, 6-1, 7-5
|Matt Lockin (#66)
||Rajeev Ram (#22)
|| 6-3, 6-4
||Phil Stolt (#20)
|| 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
||6-4, 2-6, 6-1
|| 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 *
* Clinching Singles Victory
* Clinching Doubles Victory