The team combined 16 wins in doubles and singles in the tournament, with Lee reaching the singles final.
Vanderbilt sophomore Anessa Lee put in a sensational performance in the season-opening Debbie Southern Furman Fall Classic this weekend, alongside a solid performance from the doubles teams. The other participating players came from 13 schools across the country, with only singles and doubles at the event. In all, the Commodores came away with 16 wins and plenty of experience in their first weekend of the 2021-22 season.
We lost some close sets and didn’t quite finish in some three-setters, but we will learn a lot from those kinds of games early in the year, said head coach Aleke Tsoubanos. VUcommodores.com.
Lee, in particular, continued to show that she will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming season.
She’s getting better with the match and almost came through in her final today, and I just love the way she competes, Tsoubanos said.
Lee started the weekend for Vanderbilt with a straight-sets (6-1, 6-0) singles win against nationally ranked, No. 72 Clemson’s Eleni Louka. The rest of the team struggled in round 1 and lost the other seven singles matchups. Sophomore Anna Ross and graduate transfer MaryAnn Rompf were both able to extend their matches to three sets despite their losses.
The competition here is great and our kids have fought well in singles, Tsoubanos said.
The team found more success in round 1 doubles, where sophomore Holly Staff and junior Marcella Cruz won 6-3 against the No. 38 duo of sisters Carolyn and Anna Campana of Wake Forest.
Ross, number 8 in the doubles with Staff, teamed up with Rompf for the doubles competition in Furman, although they fell 6-1 for the Duke team of Kelly Chen and Eliza Omirou.
Lee and her partner, graduate transfer Yufei Long, also lost 6-3 to Thomas and Labrana of Texas.
Freshman Brooke Stevens kicked off her doubles career with a win alongside junior Dasha Kourkina. They carried the set 6-3 against the Georgia Tech team of Rosie Garcia Gross and Sophia Sassoli to advance in the doubles winners class.
Lees singles success carried over to the semifinal round, when she tied together the winning sets of 6-2 and 6-3 over Malaika Rapolu of Texas to advance to the final. Waiting for Lee was Duke freshman Emma Jackson, who was a former five-star recruit in the Class of 2021.
Jackson and Lee had a back-and-forth first set and went to the tiebreaker. Lee eventually went away 7-6 (3), putting her one set away from the final win over Furman. But Jackson rallied and went 6-2 in the second set and 6-4 in the third to take the singles title in their division.
In the doubles semifinals, the Staff/Cruz and Stevens/Kourkina teams both split their matches. Stevens and Kourkina lost 6-1 to Texas Simran Kortikere and Gabby Cusano before putting in a dominant 6-1 performance against USC duo Kendall Couch and Elise Mills. Likewise, Staff and Cruz lost their first game 2-6 to Tennessee Kylie Duckworth and Eleonara Molinaro, but returned to defeat Rapolu and her partner Bella Zamarripa 6-3.
Two teams’ losses eliminated the Commodores from the winners’ round, although the other pairs who lost in round 1 continued to play in the consolation games. Lee and Long both won consolation matches in doubles, and Ross and Rompf lost their first, but came back to win their second and final game of the tournament.
In the singles consolation series, the team continued to gain valuable experience in their bid to recover from heavy losses in the first round.
Staff took a straight-set (6-3, 7-6) win against Tennessee’s Esther Adeshina, but her redemption run came up just short when Wake Forest’s Casie Wooden played two of three sets (6-3, 3-6, 6). -1) in the next round.
Kourkina dominated both of her games, taking a 6-1, 6-4 win against USC’s Ana Cruz and a 6-2, 6-4 win against Clemson’s Sophia Hatton.
Ross had a difficult consolation lap, with two defeats. She put in an admirable effort in the first, with USC’s Allie Gretkowski narrowly escaping 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 in a three-set showdown. But Ross had to retire after only two games in the second game, as Michigan State’s Tamara Racine walked away with the game win.
Cruz nearly won both of her games, losing a 7-6 (5) tiebreak to USC’s Elise Mills in the first. She bounced back with a complete 6-3, 6-4 effort against Tennessee’s Callie Creath.
Rompf was able to carry both of her consolation matchups in just two sets against Gross of Georgia Tech and Tennessee’s Olivia Symons.
Finally, Stevens split her two matches, winning against Furman’s Ilayda Baykan and losing to Wake Forest’s Saby Nihalani in three sets.
The Vanderbilt team is looking forward to their next games October 8-10 as the host school of the Stewart Invitational in June at the Currey Tennis Center in the West End.
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