NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt shut down the Illinois Fighting Illini, 4-1, Saturday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Currey Tennis Center.
Vanderbilt (18-10) will advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004, marking the program's third Sweet 16 appearance. Illinois finished the season at 17-11. The last two meetings between Vanderbilt and Illinois in the NCAA Tournament ended with the Fighting Illini downing VU in the 2003 National Championship match and in the 2004 quarterfinals.
In the program's 12th NCAA Tournament appearance, the Commodores are now 15-11 all time.
The Commodores and Illini battled through doubles before Vanderbilt came out with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 to take the point. At No.1, Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman were tied, 3-3, before winning the final five games to win, 8-3, over the 17th-ranked duo of Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon.
Suresh Eswaran and Jeff Offerdahl held off Farris Gosea and Brian Page to win 8-6 at the No. 3 doubles spot.
In singles play, Austin cruised to a straight sets win, 6-4, 6-2, over Kopinski to give Vanderbilt a 2-0 lead. The win made Austin 25-12 overall this season and 16-9 in dual action.
Lipman recorded his 20th dual win of the season in singles to give Vanderbilt a 3-0 lead. The Nashville native defeated Hiltzik, 6-4, 6-4, to run his overall singles record to 30-10 this season.
Looking to seal the deal, the Commodores turned to freshman Rhys Johnson at the No. 6 position. The Perth, Australia, native defeated Guignon in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, to insure a trip to the Sweet 16 for VU.
Illinois' lone point came in No. 5 singles where Alex Jesse defeated Marc van der Merwe, 7-5, 6-0.
The NCAA Championships will be held in Urbana, Ill., May 16-21, hosted by the University of Illinois. Vanderbilt will also be represented in the NCAA Singles Championships, as both Lipman and Austin qualified for the 64-player tournament. The singles championship will be held in Urbana, Ill., May 22-27.
1. No. 10 Ryan Lipman (VU) def. No. 32 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) 6-4, 6-4
2. No. 46 Gonzales Austin (VU) def. Tim Kopinski (ILL) 6-4, 6-2
3. Jeff Offerdahl (VU) vs. Stephen Hoh (ILL) 2-6, 5-5, unfinished
4. Kris Yee (VU) vs. Farris Gosea (ILL) 6-2, 2-6, unfinished
5. Alex Jesse (ILL) def. Marc van der Merwe (VU) 7-5, 6-0
6. Rhys Johnson (VU) def. Ross Guignon (ILL) 6-3, 6-3
1. Austin/Lipman (VU) def. No. 17 Kopinski/Guignon (ILL) 8-3
2. Johnson/van der Merwe (VU) vs. Hiltzik/Jesse (ILL) 6-6, unfinished
3. Eswaran/Offerdahl (VU) def. Gosea/Page (ILL) 8-6
Order of Finish