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
UPDATE: Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.Here are more of Coach Freeze's interviews in Bristol. Scroll down to the earlier post to hear him on Ivan Maisel's podcast. Listen: Freeze on the Paul Finebaum Show Listen: Freeze on the Freddie Coleman Show... read more
All 14 Southeastern Conference football coaches will travel to ESPN's annual mid-summer football coaches "car wash" - in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day - at ESPN's Bristol, Conn., headquarters on Monday and Tuesday. Ole... read more
Ole Miss took its turn at the annual SEC Media Days on Thursday. Joining head coach Hugh Freeze was senior quarterback Bo Wallace, junior defensive end C.J. Johnson and senior safety Cody Prewitt. Here are a few related SEC Media... read more
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said on day one that his expectations were to make the program relevant in the Southeastern Conference Western Division. With a full allotment of 85 scholarship players and more depth of both sides of... read more
Once overshadowed, Wallace now finds himself more firmly in the spotlight after the departure of seven of the league's eight top passers. The dean of SEC quarterbacks, Wallace is the league's leading returner in total offense, passing yards and passing... read more
Before taking his turn at the podium in the main room at SEC Media Days on Thursday, head coach Hugh Freeze met with members of the Ole Miss local media and addressed a wide variety of topics. Here are some... read more
Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Three of SEC Media Days, which featured Steve Shaw (SEC), Justin Connolly (ESPN),... read more
Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Two of SEC Media Days, which featured South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M... read more
NFL.com CFB 24/7 has counted down the 14 college football players to watch -- and some other college football topics -- in varying categories in 2014. Below are the highlights for Ole Miss and the link to the complete 14... read more
Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day 1 of SEC Media Days, which featured SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Auburn, Florida... read more
Former Ole Miss player Zack Cozart, now a member of the Cincinnati Reds, was named the best defensive shortstop in baseball for the first half of the 2014 season. ESPN Insider Scott Spratt selected one player from either league at... read more
The Season: Ole Miss Baseball: Omaha Bound from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 1: Regionals from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 2: Super Regionals from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 3: CWS Games 1 & 2... read more
Three student-athletes and the head coach of each of the 14 Southeastern Conference football programs will participate in SEC Football Media Days, July 14-17, at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.Ole Miss will take its... read more
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy talks about the addition of assistant coach Tony Madlock and the new-look roster for the upcoming season, among other topics, on the SEC Summer Men's Basketball Coaches Media Teleconference Monday. Here are the highlights:Ole... read more