Leads Commodores into NCAA Final Eight; 'Dores Shock
Junior wins decisive match at No. 3 singles
Fla. - The 10th-seeded Vanderbilt womens tennis
team (21-5) came up with its best when it mattered the
most, as the Commodores upset the seventh-seeded Lady
Volunteers of Tennessee (22-7), 4-3, in the NCAA Tournament
Round of 16 on the Varsity Courts of the Ring Tennis
Complex. The Commodores had dropped their previous three
matches to the Lady Volunteers, including a loss in
last years Sweet 16.
The Commodores will now take on Florida, who defeated
Arizona State earlier in the afternoon, at 10 a.m. Friday.
Vanderbilt defeated Florida back on March 16 in Nashville,
4-3. The victory gave the Commodores their first win
over the Gators in 28 attempts.
The star of the Tennessee match was junior Kelly Schmandt
(Santa Barbara, Calif.), who gutted out a three-set
marathon with 51st-ranked Crystal Cleveland at the No.
3 position, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4. After splitting the first
two sets, both players battled back-and-forth in the
third. Schmandts break finally came in the ninth
game of the set, as she was able to break Clevelands
serve and take a 5-4 lead. With all the pressure on
Schmandt to hold her serve, she was able to grind out
a long game and win the match. Schmandt improves to
23-4 in singles matches this year. Cleveland had been
a perfect 11-0 in SEC dual matches this season prior
to her loss on Thursday.
had a feeling the match would come down to our court,"
Schmandt said. "We went for two hours at SECs.
I knew it would be a battle. In the first set I thought
I played flawless and didnŐt make any mistakes. In the
second set I was tired and began to play a little flat.
The third set was a battle to string points together.
By the last one I thought I was going to fall over.
Vanderbilts third-ranked team of senior Sarah
Riske (McMurray, Pa.) and junior Aleke Tsoubanos (Chesterfield,
Mo.) got things going at the No. 1 position, as they
defeated the fifth-ranked team of Vilmarie Castellvi
and Melissa Schaub, 8-3. It is Riske and Tsoubanos
second straight win over Tennessees top doubles
duo. The win also gives them their 30th doubles victory
of the 2002-03 season.
The Lady Volunteers rebounded at No. 2 doubles, as Crystal
Cleveland and Sabita Maharaj defeated Vanderbilts
37th-ranked team of Schmandt and sophomore Audra Falk
(Cincinnati, Ohio), 8-6.
The decisive match pitted Vanderbilt junior Kori Scott
(Houston, Texas) and sophomore Annie Menees (St. Louis,
Mo.) against Tammy Encina and Breanna Kray. Scott and
Menees surged out to a 7-4 lead in the pro-set, but
had to hold off a late charge by the Tennessee duo to
win the match and the point, 8-6.
The Lady Volunteers evened the team score up a 1-1 when
the top-ranked Castellvi defeated the 17th-ranked Riske
in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. This is the third time Castellvi
has defeated Riske in 2003. Castellvi improved her dual-match
to 24-1, while Riske falls to 19-6.
The Commodores regained the advantage when Falk scored
a straight-set victory over Schaub at the No. 4 position,
6-3, 6-3. Falk has now defeated Schaub twice in the
last month, as the other win came in the SEC Tournament
quarterfinals. Falk has now amassed an 24-4 overall
record in 2002-03. She has also compiled a 45-9 singles
record over her first two seasons at Vanderbilt.
Tennessee bounced right back at the No. 2 position,
as the 57th-ranked Encina scored a straight-set win
against the 80th-ranked Tsoubanos, 6-4, 6-2. For Encina,
it is her second time in the last month to defeat Tsoubanos.
Tsoubanos is now 18-5 in dual matches in 2003.
At the No. 5 position, Vanderbilt freshman Ashley Schellhas
(Edina, Minn.), who has been one of the biggest surprises
this season for the Commodores, battled by Sabita Majarah
in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Schellhas is now 26-4
for the 2002-03 season, which includes an 18-2 dual-match
The Lady Volunteers knotted the team score up at 3-3,
when Ashley Robards battled back from one set down to
Menees at No. 6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.