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
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewSept. 8-14, 2014Volleyball- Ole Miss captured the Magnolia Invitational this past weekend to improve to 10-0, its best start in school history.- The Rebels downed UAB and Mercer 3-0 and then defeated Jacksonville State 3-1... read more
After a 56-15 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday, Ole Miss moved up four spots to No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, released on Sunday. Despite breaking into the top 10, the Rebels remain fifth among Southeastern Conference Western Division... read more
This is the third installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss Sports. This week... read more
Leading 1-0 after controlling the play for much of the game, Ole Miss opened up a 3-0 lead on Middle Tennessee with a pair of goals in the final minute of the first half on the way to a 4-0... read more
Senior cornerback Senquez Golson has come a long way since he was a freshman. That season, he was most notably on the receiving end of a highlight reel juke from Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Three years later, as part... read more
Three areas to watch as Ole Miss faces Louisiana-Lafayette in its home opener Saturday. Wearing the Bull's-Eye After a 2-0 start with wins over Boise State and Vanderbilt, Ole Miss moved up to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll,... read more
With a chance to make history, Ole Miss dropped a first set for the first time this season. The Rebels answered the bell winning the next three sets to defeat Jacksonville State 3-1 and improve to 10-0 on the season,... read more
Rebel Nation goes into its home opener Saturday excited for the return of football at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, but also saddened by the loss of one of its most renowned voices.Stan Sandroni, 64, passed away of a heart attack late Wednesday.... read more
Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of the Rebels' home opener Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and will be televised on the SEC Network.Freeze's time... read more
Former Ole Miss football player Jody Hill has partnered with Square Books in Oxford to launch his book, "38: The Chucky Mullins Effect," celebrating the life and impact of his Ole Miss teammate Chucky Mullins. Hill will be signing copies... read more
From week one to week two, head coach Hugh Freeze and offensive line coach Matt Luke are generally pleased with the progress along the offensive line. The number of false start penalties went from eight to two, while the... read more
With back-to-back tournament titles to open the season, the Rebels are 7-0 to start the season for the first time since 2007 and are also the only Southeastern Conference team still undefeated."We feel like at this point in our season... read more