KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 23 nationally ranked Ole Miss men’s tennis team got off to a slow start against No. 24 Tennessee in the final round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, but got back in the match and held a 3-2 lead, before the Vols won the final two matches for a 4-3 victory here Monday night at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center.
With the loss, Ole Miss falls to 2-1 on the season, while Tennessee (4-1) advances to the ITA National Team Indoor Final 16.
“We’re extremely disappointed obviously,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “We didn’t play well in the doubles, but even after losing the point, we still had a chance to win it in the end. We didn’t play as well as we’re capable of playing. When you aren’t playing your best, sometimes you need a little luck to go your way, and we didn’t get any today.”
The doubles point is just one point, but Tennessee gained the early momentum by capturing it with wins on courts one and three in that order. The twin duo of Marcel Thiemann and Chris Thiemann lost 8-3 to UT’s Hunter Reese and Mikelis Libietis and then William Kallberg and Johan Backstrom dropped their match to Jarryd Chaplin and Peter Nagovnak 8-6 on court three. The Rebels were leading the No. 2 match 6-4.
Ole Miss won three first sets in singles as did Tennessee. In one of those matches, Marcel Thiemann downed Vol Brandon Fickey 6-2, 6-1 at No. 2 singles to put the Rebels on the board. “Marcel played really well at No. 2 both days,” Chadwick said.
Tennessee regained the lead when Chaplin defeated Kallberg 6-3, 6-4 at No. 4, handing the Rebel freshman just his second loss of the early season.
“This was one match, where we felt like the match-up didn’t favor us,” Chadwick said. “Chaplin just slices the ball all the time and rushes you. It was tough for William to get anything going.”
Court six was one of the matches where Tennessee won the first set, but Backstrom turned the tide against Vol Taylor Patrick. The Swede won the second set 6-4 and dominated the third 6-0 to even the overall score at 2.
“Backy didn’t play well in the first set, but he fought hard and won the second set and then played a great third set,” Chadwick said.
The Rebels took the lead momentarily when Chris Thiemann finished off UT’s Edward Jones in straight sets at No. 5. Jones was serving for the first set at 5-4 when he appeared to roll his ankle. Thiemann was able to break and ultimately rally to win a tiebreaker 7-6(5) after trailing in that 4-1. He took advantage of Jones’ limited mobility to win the second set 6-2 giving his team the 3-2 lead.
In a battle between two freshmen at No. 1 singles, two breaks of serve decided the win in UT’s favor. Nik Scholtz was broken by the Vol’s Libietis to drop the first set 6-4. The South African won the second set 6-4, but Liebietis gained a break at 3-2 in the third and held for 6-3 to even the match at 3.
“Libietis is a big hitter. It was just a few points here and there that decided the first set. After we got the second set, it was 50-50. We knew whoever made a mistake first would probably lose,” Chadwick said.
All eyes then turned to No. 3 singles and a battle between junior Jonas Lutjen and UT freshman Reese. Lutjen looked strong in the first set, winning it 6-1, but Reese hung in to win the second set 7-5. Reese then broke Lutjen to start the final set and later gained another break. He served for the match at 5-2, but Lutjen staved off two match points for the break. At 30-30 on his serve, Lutjen missed into the net, and then Reese hit a passing shot by him for 6-3 to clinch the 4-3 win for the Vols.
“We were so close at three, up a set and 5-4, 30-15 in the second. Jonas had a look and the guy guessed right at the net and ended up winning that game and then breaking,” Chadwick said.
“We have to bounce back and get ready to face a very good Mississippi State team next week. They lost a tough match to Texas A&M in their final, so we’ll see who can rebound.”
The Rebels and Bulldogs will meet in the annual River Hills Mississippi Cup Thursday, Feb. 9 in Jackson at the River Hills Tennis Club. The match begins at 5 p.m. For tickets, call (601) 987-4438.
#24 Tennessee 4 #23 Ole Miss 3
Doubles 1. Reese/Libietis (UT) def. Thiemann/Thiemann (OM) 8-3 2. Scholtz/Lutjen (OM) vs. Fickey/Jones (UT) 6-4, sus. 3. Chaplin/Nagovnak (UT) def. Kallberg/Backstrom (OM) 8-6 Order of Finish: 1, 3 Singles 1. Mikeilis Libietis (UT) def. Nik Scholtz (OM) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 2. Marcel Thiemann (OM) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 6-2, 6-1 3. Hunter Reese (UT) def. Jonas Lutjen (OM) 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. William Kallberg (OM) 6-3, 6-4 5. Chris Thiemann (OM) def. Edward Jones (UT) 7-6(5), 6-2 6. Johan Backstrom (OM) def. Taylor Patrick (UT) 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 Order of Finish: 2, 4, 6, 5, 1, 3
Despite the most recent home loss to Georgia on Wednesday night, Ole Miss remains a team projected to be solidly in the field, as the Rebels put their school record four-game SEC road winning streak on the line when they... read more
Here's a collection of snow days photos from Ole Miss Athletics Photographer Josh McCoy (@OleMissPix):The Pavillion at Ole Miss in winter! #SnowDay2015 #WAOM @OleMissSports @OleMissMBB @OleMissWBB pic.twitter.com/nHyhVPlDvG-- OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) February 25, 2015 Awweeee.... #SnowDay2015 #WAOM @OleMissSports @OleMissFB pic.twitter.com/R1BDZ0shvS-- OleMissPix (@OleMissPix)... read more
If recent history is any indication, Ole Miss and Georgia are likely to go down to the wire on Wednesday night. Four of the last five meetings over the last three seasons have been decided by five points or less,... read more
The defensive backs, including former Ole Miss players Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt, participated in on-field workouts at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine on Monday in Indianapolis. Looking ahead, Ole Miss will hold its annual pro day on March 5... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review Feb. 17-23, 2015 Men's Basketball - Ole Miss posted a 2-0 mark last week with a 71-65 win at Mississippi State and a 59-57 victory over Tennessee. The Rebels improved to 10-4 in the... read more
Despite winter weather that affected many teams, it was a busy week for Ole Miss athletics. The men's basketball completed a 2-0 week and has positioned itself well entering the last two weeks of the regular season. The baseball, women's... read more
After missing the end of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season due to recovery from a torn labrum, sophomore right-hander Brady Bramlett has been brilliant in his first two outings back in 2015, fanning 19 batters through 12.0... read more
For the second time in as many weeks, Ole Miss embarks on a Thursday-Saturday swing, returning home to host Tennessee on Saturday after a 71-65 win on Thursday at Mississippi State. During the previous week, Ole Miss was on the... read more
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The game hung in the balance. Mississippi State had just regained a 54-52 lead with 6:25 left, taking advantage of a 6-0 run. Head coach Andy Kennedy challenged his team, and junior guard Stefan Moody answered the... read more
Ole Miss and Cal will play a home-and-home football series in 2017 and 2019, the schools and ESPN announced Thursday. It marks the Rebels' first matchup with a Pac-12 school in football and will be only the program's second visit... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewFeb. 10-16, 2015Men's Basketball- Ole Miss saw its six-game winning streak snapped with a one-point loss to No. 23 Arkansas Saturday night. Junior guard Stefan Moody and senior forward M.J. Rhett each scored 16 points... read more
The men's basketball team marches on toward March, the baseball team opened the 2015 season with a series win over William & Mary and the softball team prepares for its home opener under first-year head coach Mike Smith. The winter... read more