Updated: Sep 20
Belmont University’s tennis teams took on all their truest hometown rivals this weekend, with the men’s team facing Vanderbilt University on Friday and the women hosting Lipscomb University at Hadley Tennis Center on Saturday.
But neither Bruins squad walked away with a win. The Commodore men dominated with their 6-1 team effort while the Bisons bagged a 4-3 victory in the women’s showdown.
Men’s war on West End
Belmont bravely battled it out against Vanderbilt at the Currey Tennis Center, drawing the short straw with a loss Friday.
Vanderbilt secured the doubles point with a 2-1 win right off the bat. The lone Belmont doubles win came on junior Jack Randall’s fatal forehand and senior Arthur Toledo’s strategic swings as the two defeated the Vanderbilt players 6-4.
The following singles matches were full of intensity — opponents grunting, tennis shoes squeaking and rackets slicing the air.
A neck-and-neck singles race culminated in a tiebreaker match featuring Belmont sophomore Tomas Luis.
Competing against the Southeastern Conference’s reigning Player of the Week, Vandy junior Joubert Klopper, Luis pressured his opponent to three sets but ultimately couldn’t grab the victory.
Fellow sophomore Ian Cruz delivered Belmont’s sole singles win with nearly unretrievable serves, going 6-4 and 6-2 for the Bruins. He walked away from the match with confidence.
“If I can play like this, I can beat anyone,” said Cruz.
Belmont’s director of tennis, Mauricio Antun acknowledged the challenge posed by Vanderbilt’s SEC team but kept a positive perspective.
“It’s always going to be tough to beat them, but all we wanted to see is how our guys can compete against them,” Antun said, looking at the contest as a learning experience. “We like playing them … it’s great practice and good competition.”
Belmont sophomore Diego Castro participated in a close 6-4 doubles loss and spoke about Antun’s coaching afterward.
“He talks a lot about mindset,” Castro said. “Think about the next point, never the last point. Always focusing on the present and the future.”
Looking ahead to future spring matches, Antun commends the team’s perseverance and hopes that they will bring more intensity and energy earlier on to consistently show their level of play and maintain a matchpoint mindset.
“Every point is crunch time,” said Antun.
Next up for men’s tennis is an at-home game series when Georgia Southern University comes to visit Hadley Tennis Center on Saturday.
Belmont men’s tennis regroups during a break at the Vanderbilt matchup Friday. Sam Lewandowski
Women’s Battle of the Boulevard
After location changes and time shifts, another Battle of the Boulevard went down Saturday evening in the dome at Hadley Tennis Center, and it was a close one.
Result: 4-3, Lipscomb wins.
The Bruins clinched the initial points in the doubles games, however, with a dominating 6-2 dub by Viktoria Kliimand and Taylor Trondson, along with a close 7-6 game where Belmont’s Somer Henry and Peyton Lee stepped off the court victorious.
The Bisons stepped it up for the singles matchups to turn the score around, bringing in three points from games No. 1, 2 and 3.
Swinging back, Lee recorded her second Belmont win for the evening with 6-3 and 7-5 sets.
Meredith Roberts followed her teammate with an intense three-setter. Lipscomb opponent Liza Diachenko secured the first 6-4, and Roberts the second, 6-4.
Needing a decisive set, Belmont’s long-fought battle came to the hands of the Bruin who could equalize the overall score to 3-all.
Singles match No. 6 would be the tiebreaker.
Despite an honorable effort, Kliimand could not follow up her win in doubles and fell instead 6-4 in two straight sets against Lipscomb’s Maddox Bandy, who brought the Boulevard back to the Bisons this time.
From one Nashville neighbor to another; the Belmont women will play Vanderbilt on Sunday, but the earliest opportunity for redemption is scheduled for Friday when Wofford College comes to town.
PHOTO: Somer Henry battles on the court during a Saturday matchup against Lipscomb University. Jessica Mattsson / Belmont Vision
This article was written by Jaymey Hedberg and Jessica Mattsson.