TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – No. 22 Arkansas escaped No. 67 Vanderbilt, 4-3, Thursday morning in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the University of Alabama Tennis Complex in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
With the match tied 3-3, freshman Blake Strode clinched the win for the Hogs at No. 4 singles.
“That was just a great college tennis match, something you hear about all the time,” Arkansas head coach Robert Cox said. “This conference has some great teams in it and it doesn’t matter if you’re playing the number one team or the last place team.”
Sixth-seeded Arkansas (17-9) advances to Friday’s second round against third seed and 13th-ranked Ole Miss at 10 a.m. The Razorbacks and Rebels met earlier this season in Fayetteville with Ole Miss winning, 4-3.
The Commodores took the doubles point and jumped out to a 1-0 lead. It is the fifth straight match the Hogs have dropped the doubles point, and only the fifth time this season the Hogs have won a match when losing doubles. Arkansas is 5-9 in those matches.
Arkansas’ duo of Matt Roberts and Rohan Gajjar posted a win at No. 1 for the Hogs, 8-3, over Evan Dufaux and Andy Mack.
Vanderbilt took a 2-0 advantage with a win on court five where Colin Mascall fell to Nick Cromydas, 6-3, 6-0. Arkansas responded with wins at No. 2 and No. 6, tying the score, 2-2. At No. 2, Roberts, ranked 72nd nationally, bested Dufaux, 6-2, 6-4. It is the 27th win of the season for Roberts, a new career-high and the ninth-best single-season total in school history.
Michael Jung, who has not played in a dual match since April 2 against Ole Miss, claimed a point for the Hogs at No. 6, knocking off Jordan Magarik, 6-4, 6-1. Jung’s win is his second of the season over Magarik with the first coming March 10, 6-3, 3-6, 1-0, in the Razorbacks’ 7-0 win. Jung improves to 23-7 this season.
Zguns, ranked 19th, was upset by Ryan Preston at No. 1, 6-3, 6-2. The loss drops Zguns to 24-9 this season. Gajjar evened the score at 3-3 with a, 7-6, 6-2, triumph over Mack at No. 3. Gajjar improves to 21-8 on the season.
The attention turned to court four, were Strode was locked in a tight match with Nathan Sachs. After winning the first set in a tiebreaker, Strode, a freshman, also claimed a second set tiebreaker, clinching the Razorback win, 7-6, 7-6. The win improves Strode to 26-5 this season, the 10th-best single-season win total in school history. It is the ninth straight win for the St. Louis, Mo., product and his 11th in his last 13 matches.
“You had two teams out there today that were very evenly matched and it was tough,” Cox said. “Vanderbilt had a lot of resolve, and Coach Duvenhage has done an incredible job only having six players to work with. I feel very fortunate to get out of there with a win.”
Arkansas’ match with Ole Miss, which had a bye on Thursday, begins at9 a.m. at the University of Alabama Tennis Complex. Fans can follow live scoring at www.hogwired.com.
“Playing a good team like Ole Miss is a monumental task, but we’ll try to climb the mountain,” Cox said.
#22 Arkansas 4, #67 Vanderbilt 3
April 20, 2006
SEC Tournament First Round
1. Matt Roberts/Rohan Gajjar (AR) def. Evan Dufaux/Andy Mack (VU), 8-3
2. Ryan Preston/Jordan Magarik (VU) def. #59 Adrians Zguns/Blake Strode (AR), 8-6
3. Nathan Sachs/Nick Cromydas (VU) def. Colin Mascall/Austin King (AR), 8-5
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2*
1. #60 Ryan Preston (VU) def. #19 Adrians Zguns (AR), 6-3, 6-2
2. #72 Matt Roberts (AR) def. Evan Dufaux (VU), 6-2, 6-4
3. Rohan Gajjar (AR) def. Andy Mack (VU), 7-6, 6-2
4. Blake Strode (AR) def. Nathan Sachs (VU), 7-6, 7-6
5. Nick Cromydas (VU) def. Colin Mascall (AR), 6-3, 6-0
6. Michael Jung (AR) def. Jordan Magarik (VU), 6-4, 6-1
Order of Finish: 5, 2, 6, 1, 3, 4*