OXFORD, Miss. - Conditions were not favorable, and it was the first outdoor match of the season, but the No. 13 nationally ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team rose to the occasion, and senior Jonas Lutjen stepped up big to clinch a 4-2 win against Memphis here Wednesday at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
With the Rebels leading 3-2 and both Lutjen and sophomore Nik Scholtz in the third sets, the remaining fans who braved the cold, waited to see who could get that final point for the team. After dropping his first set 6-1, Lutjen, ranked No. 5 in the nation, rallied to win the second set against 79th-ranked Joe Salisbury, 6-3 and then broke at 4-4 in the third. He served it out for 6-4 to clinch the victory.
The Rebels got on the board first by winning the all-important doubles point. Memphis won at No. 2 doubles 8-3, but Ole Miss picked up two big wins on courts one and three to secure the point. Scholtz and Lutjen teamed up for a 9-7 win at No. 1 and then Johan Backstrom and Stefan Lindmark won a huge tiebreaker at No. 3, 9-8(4) to clinch it.
Three of the singles matches went three sets, but in two of the three that didn't, the Rebels were victorious. Lindmark, a freshman, moved up to No. 4 singles and Backstrom slid down to No. 5. After Memphis won at No. 6, Backstrom finished off a 6-2, 7-6(2) win over UM's David O'Hare to make it 2-1 Rebels.
Lindmark, ranked No. 106 in singles, defeated Tiger Johnny Grimal 7-6, 6-1 to increase the lead to 3-1 and improve to 5-1 in dual matches.
Shortly thereafter, UM newcomer Lukas Vrnak finished off a comeback against William Kallberg at No. 3 singles, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, to put the Tigers within one.
When Lutjen clinched, Scholtz was up 4-2 in the deciding set against Tiger Connor Glennon. Scholtz won the first set 6-2, but Glennon was able to hold off Scholtz in the second set tiebreaker 7-6(6).
The Rebels will now hit the road for the start of Southeastern Conference play. First up, they will face No. 31 Alabama Friday at 3 p.m. followed by No. 32 Auburn Sunday at 1 p.m.
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