STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Vanderbilt men's tennis team came out on the winning side of an epic 4-3 victory over LSU in the opening round of the 2012 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament.
The match lasted over four hours and saw all six singles matches go three sets, with two of those decisive sets reaching a tiebreak.
Things started off slowly for Vanderbilt, as LSU took the doubles point with a pair of wins at one and two doubles. The first came in an 8-3 win by Olivier Borsos and Roger Anderson over Vandy's Blake Bazarnik and Anton Kovrigin.
That win was followed by the Tiger pair of Neal Skupski and Chris Simpson defeating Vanderbilt's Gonzales Austin and Alex DiValerio, 8-5, to take the 1-0 lead.
Then came an incredible set of tightly contested singles matches.
Vanderbilt got its first point of the match when Bazarnik rallied at four singles to defeat Tom Knights. Knights took the first set, 6-4, before Bazarnik rallied to win the final two sets, 6-1 and 6-4.
The Commodores got another come-from-behind win at six singles, when DiValerio rallied to beat David Roberts. DiValerio dropped the first set 6-2 before winning, 6-4 and 6-3, to give Vanderbilt a 2-1 lead.
LSU then evened the match at 2-2, with a big win at number one singles in a match that featured two of the top-40 players in the country. LSU's 38th-ranked Borsos took the opening set, 6-2, before Vanderbilt's Charlie Jones, ranked 40th, took the second, 6-4. Borsos then edged Jones, 6-4, tying the match.
That was followed by Vandy's Jeff Offerdahl defeating Chris Simpson, the No. 91 player in the country, in three sets. Simpson took the first set, 7-6 before Offerdahl won the second two sets, 6-4 and 6-3, to give the Commodores a 3-2 lead.
Attention then shifted to number five singles, where Kovrigin was facing Stefan Szacinski. The pair split the first two sets, with Szacinski winning 6-4 in the opener before Kovrigin forced a third set with a 6-3 win.
The third set was seemingly endless, reaching a score of 6-6 and a tiebreak score of 8-8 before Szacinski finally won consecutive rallies to take the tiebreaker 10-8 and win the match with a 7-6 third set decision.
With the match tied at 3-3, it came down to number two singles, where Austin (No. 102) was facing Skupski (No. 54). Austin won the opening set 6-3 before Skupski took the second 7-6. The third set, like at number five singles, went to a tiebreaker at 6-6.
With Austin leading the tiebreak 5-4, he broke Skupski's serve to make it 6-4. Skupski answered to cut it to 6-5, but Austin did not squander the opportunity when he got the serve back and won 7-5 to clinch the match and send the Commodores on to the second round.
Vanderbilt improves to 8-14 on the season and will move to the quarterfinals, where the Commodores will face top-seeded Kentucky. That match is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. CT on Friday, April 20.
Results - #43 Vanderbilt 4, #19 LSU 3
April 19, 2012 - Starkville, Miss.
2012 SEC Tournament First Round
1. #38 Olivier Borsos (LSU) def. #40 Charlie Jones (VU), 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
2. #102 Gonzales Austin (VU) def. #54 Neal Skupski (LSU), 6-3, 6(1)-7, 7-6(5)*
3. Jeff Offerdahl (VU) def. #91 Chris Simpson (LSU), 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3
4. Blake Bazarnik (VU) def. Tom Knights (LSU), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
5. Stefan Szacinski (LSU) def. Anton Kovrigin (VU), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(8)
6. Alex DiValerio (VU) def. David Roberts (LSU), 2-6, 6-4, 6-3
1.#36 Neal Skupski/Chris Simpson (LSU) def. #17 Gonzales Austin/Alex DiValerio (VU), 8-5*
2. Olivier Borsos/Roger Anderson (LSU) def. Blake Bazarnik/Anton Kovrigin (VU), 8-3
3. Tom Knights/Stefan Szacinski (LSU) led Charlie Jones/Joe Dorn (VU), 5-3 (abandonded)
*Clinched doubles point
Order of Finish
Singles: 4, 6, 1, 3, 5, 2
Doubles: 2, 1 (3 abandoned)