NEW YORK – The 2014 season has been a historic one for the Columbia men’s tennis team, posting a 20-1 overall record, winning its 11th Ivy League title and riding an 18-match win streak to its best national ranking at No. 16. The Lions will carry that momentum to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend, as the top seed at the Nashville Regional of the NCAA Tournament. Columbia will take on No. 68 East Tennessee State in the opening round on Saturday, May 10 at 10 a.m. at the Currey Tennis Center.
No. 19 Vanderbilt, the regional host, will take on No. 36 Virginia Tech in the second match of the regional, with the winners squaring off in the second round on Sunday, May 11 at 1 p.m.
2014 NCAA TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP – NASHVILLE REGIONAL
SATURDAY, MAY 10
11 a.m. – Columbia (20-1) vs. East Tenn. State (14-8)
2 p.m. – Vanderbilt (16-10) vs. Virginia Tech (14-11)
SUNDAY, MAY 9
2 p.m. – Men’s Second Round
SCOUTING NO. 16 COLUMBIA
Columbia is making its ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since earning an at-large bid in 2012. Columbia cruised through the Ivy League portion of the schedule, dropping just one match en route to a 7-0 mark and its 11th Ivy League title. Against ranked opponents this season, the Lions recorded 10 wins and just one defeat at the hands of then-No. 3 Georgia by a score of 4-2 at the ITA Kick-off Classic in Athens, Ga. in January.
A trio of juniors have made their mark on the national stage for the Lions this season. On the singles side, Winston Lin, the Ivy League Player of the Year, is in the midst of a 19-match win streak as the Lions top player. In dual matches he earned a 15-0 record and is ranked No. 17 in the nation. During the fall season, Lin shined with strong performances at three top tournaments. The Williamsville, N.Y., native reached the Round of 16 at the ITA All-American Championships and the quarterfinals of the UTSA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. His top showing, came at the USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Championship were he downed Harvard’s Denis Nguyen for the title.
Classmates Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur have been equally impressive in doubles action. The 12th-ranked tandem capped a brilliant fall by winning the doubles title at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, defeating the then-No. 2 ranked team in the nation in Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese of Tennessee. In dual matches this spring, the duo went 11-2 overall, while posting a 4-2 mark against ranked opponents.
Lin was not the lone Columbia student-athlete to go undefeated during the dual season. Sophomore Mike Vermeer is a perfect 16-0, playing primarily as the No. 6, but also seeing time at No. 2 and 5. Columbia’s 87-14 singles mark as a team this spring is highlighted by its 27-1 record against the Ancient Eight. Vermeer and Lin teamed up this spring for a team-best 13 wins at the No. 2 slot on the doubles side.
SCOUTING NO. 68 EAST TENNESSEE STATE
The Bucs continued their domination of the Atlantic Sun this season, winning its eighth straight conference title to earn its 12th invite in program history to the NCAA Tournament. Winners of its last 11 matches, ETSU wrapped up the season with a 14-8 mark. The Bucs’ are in Nashville for the second straight year for the NCAA Regionals, having been beaten by Vanderbilt last season in the opening round, 4-0.
Despite not having a singles player or doubles team ranked in the latest ITA poll, the Bucs are streaking in the right direction. Top singles player David Biosca has won his last seven matches at No. 1 to improve to 11-7. Diego Nunez, ETSU’s primary No. 2 rebounded from a 1-8 start to the season with seven straight wins to end the regular season an even .500 (8-8). Ismael Merino has the longest win streak on the team at 10 matches, splitting time at No. 3, 4, and 5.
Merino and Nunez serve as the Bucs’ top doubles team, playing to a 9-10 overall record and a 3-2 mark against the Atlantic Sun. Biosca and Roger Ordeig have win their last eight matches as the No. 2 doubles team, while Connor Huertas and Ricardo Pabon are an unbeaten 8-0 in the No. 3 slot.
SCOUTING NO. 19 VANDERBILT
The Commodores are making their 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and hosting a regional for the second straight year. Last season, Vanderbilt used home-court advantage to win both of its opening round matches and advance to the Round of 16 for the third time in program history.
Vanderbilt concluded the 2014 spring season with a 16-10 record, going 12-10 against ranked opponents. During the regular season, Vanderbilt went 5-7 during SEC action, but reached the semifinals of the conference tournament with wins over No. 42 Auburn and No. 8 Georgia, its highest ranked win of the year.
Two-time first team All-SEC selection Gonzales Austin leads the Commodores with a No. 21 national ranking. Gonzalez compiled a 15-4 dual record, going 14-5 against nationally-ranked foes. Ryan Lipman, a second team All-SEC selection this year, posted a 15-5 record to earn the No. 59 national ranking. The pair teams up to create the No. 4 ranked doubles team in the nation, notching a 16-4 dual record.
SCOUTING NO. 36 VIRGINIA TECH
The Hokies are making their eight straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament after putting together a 14-11 season with a 5-6 mark in the ACC. Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt are meeting for the second time in the first round of an NCAA Regional, with the Hokies winning the first meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2011, 4-2.
Amerigo Contini boasts an 18-6 dual match record as the Hokies’ top singles player. His 12-5 mark against nationally ranked opponents has earned him the No. 20 ranking in the latest ITA poll. Andreas Bjerrehus is ranked No. 92 nationally, playing to a 14-10 dual record as Virginia Tech’s No. 2 player.
Contini and Bjerrehus team up in doubles action, ranking 46th nationally with an 8-5 record and a 4-2 mark against the ACC. Viriginia Tech has used 12 different doubles teams during the dual season.