VU tennis teams earn NCAA invites, look forward to possible rematches

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 8:55pm

Neither the Vanderbilt men nor women’s tennis teams will have to travel far to compete in the NCAA Tournament. Likewise, neither will have to familiarize themselves with their second-round opponents, if they make it that far.

Both teams received bids Tuesday afternoon and both will get chances at rematches. For the women, the seedings give them a possible fourth shot at rival Tennessee.

• The women, ranked No. 28, head east on I-40 to Knoxville in a region where they play Indiana (15-9). No. 3 seed Tennessee meets Winthrop in the other semifinal. The winners meet for a chance to go to top 16 nationals, beginning May 22.

• The men, ranked No. 38, head north on I-65 to Louisville where they will play Virginia Tech in their opener. That winner will play the victor of a match between No. 15 seed Louisville and Eastern Kentucky.

Both men and women’s regionals are the weekend of May 14-16. The women open play May 14, the men either May 14 or 15. Winners of each of the 16 four-team regionals earn tickets to Athens, Ga., where both men and women’s tournaments will be held.

“If we get there, it would be the fourth time we’ve played Tennessee,’’ VU women’s coach Geoff Macdonald, who has taken every one of his 16 teams at Vanderbilt to the NCAA tournament, said. “I had a feeling they (the committee) would send us to Knoxville. Each of our matches with them has been close and competitive.”

Vanderbilt dropped two of the three.

“But first, we have to get by an Indiana team which is extremely good,” he added. “They have beaten Tennessee (6-1 on Feb. 21) this season.”

Vanderbilt (13-9) lost to UT 4-3 in the Kickoff Classic in Knoxville, won in Nashville 5-2, then lost 4-2 in the SEC tournament 12 days ago.

“We’ve battled through a huge amount of adversity this season, maybe more than at any time since I’ve coached at Vanderbilt,’’ said Macdonald whose ’01 team reached the final. “At this point, I like where we are, we’re playing a good level of tennis.”

Vanderbilt’s men (13-10) earned their third NCAA trip in Coach Ian Duvenhage’s five seasons and the program’s ninth overall. The Commodores never have lost an opening round team match (8-0). They got to the finals in ’03.

“I like our draw,’’ Duvenhage said. “We’ve been to Louisville before, we had a good match with them (the Commodores lost 5-2 Feb. 19 indoors) and are familiar with the surroundings. We play a strong Virginia Tech team first, and if we can get by them, we get another shot at Louisville.”

Asked if he was apprehensive about getting invited, Duvenhage said, “not at all. We were ranked lower than this two years ago and got in, plus we played a very strong schedule.

“We’ve played some good solid tennis this season, and we’ve laid a few eggs. At this point in the season, no more egg-laying.”

The fields for the NCAA individual championships – singles and doubles – will be announced Wednesday. VU ace Ryan Lipman, ranked No. 25 and recently named All-SEC and SEC co-freshman of the year, appears to be a certainty to be invited in singles.