Hoosiers Drop Heart Breaker To Vanderbilt at NCAA Regionals
May 10, 2008
OXFORD, Miss. - The Indiana men's tennis team suffered a heart-breaking 4-3 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Oxford Regional on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford. The match came down to the No. 3 singles match between IU's Philip Eilers and Vandy's Vijay Paul, with Paul fighting off three match points in a third set tiebreak to clinch the final point for Vanderbilt.
"Both teams played extremely well," Indiana head coach Randy Bloemendaal said. "It was great college match. I'm very proud of our guys. We fought for four hours and 53 minutes, so I can't ask for anything more."
Dara McLoughlin and Thomas Richter clinched doubles point with a rousing comeback in the tiebreaker after rallying from a 7-3 deficit in the set. They won the tiebreaker 9-7 and staved off a match point at 7-6 to score the last three points with the game-winner coming on a Vanderbilt volley that landed beyond the baseline.
"The first doubles team played extremely well," Bloemendaal said. "They were down two breaks but came back and clinched the match for us, and it was 12th straight win this year."
In singles action, Dara McLoughlin fell to Nik Cromydas from Vanderbilt in two sets, 6-3 and 6-1, evening the team score at 1-1. Vanderbilt then took a 2-1 lead after Bryant Salcedo downed Indiana's Lachlan Ferguson, 6-4 and 6-4.
At the fifth singles match, Indiana's Michael McCarthy won the first set, 6-3, and then dropped the second 6-1. In the third and decisive set, McCarthy pulled away in the tiebreaker to claim the first singles point for the Hoosiers and even the overall team score at 2-2.
"McCarthy was down a break in the third but played a gutsy match and ended up winning the tie breaker," Bloemendaal said.
Senior Thomas Richter was part of his second comeback of the day, rallying from a 6-3 loss in the first set to Ryan Preston, the 53rd ranked singles player in the most recent ITA rankings. Richter won the second set, 6-3 and then won the third set tiebreak, 7-3, give IU a one point lead, 3-2.
"Thomas Richter great match," Bloemendaal said, "and really broke down his opponent and broke his conditioning down."
Vanderbilt evened the score again at 3-3, as James Moye defeated the Hoosiers' Santiago Gruter in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The match would come down to the redshirt freshman Eilers' racket against Vanderbilt's Vijay Paul and he nearly came through. He battled through dropping a tough first set tiebreak to win the second set, 6-4. The third set also went to a tiebreaker and Eilers took a 6-3 lead and had two chances to serve it out for the match. Eilers used his big serve to take the lead but Paul was steady and fought off all three match points before eventually winning 9-7, ending the Hoosiers' season.
"I don't think Phil could have played any better," Bloemendaal said. "He and (Vanderbilt's) Vijay played the match of the day without question. We had three match points but Vijay deserves a lot of credit for pulling it out."
Check back soon