NASHVILLE -- Vanderbilt, the 16th-ranked tennis team in the country, beat East Tennessee State 4-0 Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The match was delayed more than an hour because of rain.
The Bucs (13-7) were making their seventh consecutive NCAA appearance and had previously beaten Alabama and Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament. They figured to have a chance against a homestanding Vandy team that went 6-6 in the tough Southeastern Conference.
“The guys fought from the beginning and never stopped,” ETSU coach Yaser Zaatini said. “It was an incredibly tough match and I’m extremely proud of the effort.”
After the Commodores took the doubles point with two decisive victories, they continued to pour it on once singles began. Vandy won the opening set in four of the six singles matches.
Rogerio Ribeiro and Jorge Varon were the only ETSU players to win the first set. Ribeiro was up 6-2 against No. 46 Gonzales Austin at No. 2, while Varon took a tiebreaker against Kriss Yee at No. 4.
Being down a set in so many matches meant the Bucs would need a miracle to pull of their third win in NCAA tournament play. The miracle didn’t come, although ETSU at least put up a fight in the end.
Rhys Johnson gave Vanderbilt its first singles point when he finished off Ricardo Pabon 6-4, 6-2 at No. 6. Ryan Lipman, ranked No. 10 nationally, was next, beating ETSU’s Jesus Bandres 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1.
Finally, Ribeiro ran out of gas, dropping the final two sets to Austin, 6-2, 6-0, as Vandy closed out the match.
“I’m glad we got by this one,” Vanderbilt coach Ian Dunvenhage said. “ I knew it was a tough first round. Honestly, this team, as the fourth seed ... in my mind, we had by far the tougher of the two opponents here.”
The Bucs were doing well in two matches still in progress when the outcome was decided. At No. 3, ETSU’s Juan Ramirez and Vanderbilt’s Jeff Offerdahl had split sets and Offerdahl was up 2-1 in the third. At No. 4, Varon was up a set and leading 4-3 in the second.
At No. 5, Vanderbilt’s Marc van der Merwe won the first set against Roger Ordeig. They were in a tiebreaker in the second when the end came.
The Bucs will lose Bandres and Ramirez, the team’s only seniors. Ribeiro, the A-Sun tournament MVP, finished his sophomore season 29-11.
Vanderbilt (17-10) will take on Illinois in today’s second round in a rematch of the2003 national championship match,won by Illinois. The Illini (17-10) beat Georgia State 4-0 in the tournament opener on Friday.