OXFORD, Miss. -- The Ole Miss men’s tennis team rallied to beat No. 32 Memphis 4-3 here Tuesday in their first outdoor match of the season at the newly renovated Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center/Galtney Courts.
After a disappointing start losing the doubles point, the Rebels came out swinging at the top three spots in singles and at No. 6, where Johan Backstrom clinched the victory.
“It was a tough match, but we knew it would be. Memphis has a very strong team,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “They did a good job in the doubles. We had some looks at No. 3 doubles at 6-6 up 40-0. If we get that, it could have been the difference maker in the doubles. We did a good job of coming out after a disappointing doubles and finding a way to get four singles. I am glad we were challenged and had our backs against the wall. These are the kinds of things that make your team a little better.”
With the match squared at three, all eyes turned to court six where Backstrom, a sophomore, was up a set and looking to close out Memphis senior Leon Nasemann. Backstrom served for it at 5-0, but got broken for the first time in the match. Not wanting to try and serve it out again, Backstrom broke Nasemann in a long back and forth seventh game to clinch the 4-3 victory.
“It was a very long game, that last one. I had some match points, and he hit some good volleys. I just grinded it out,” Backstrom said. “I had a chance to serve it out at 5-0, and got broken for the first time in the match. It was good to come back from that and take it right away in that kind of pressure. “I knew that it was coming down to me, when everybody came up top. But it was 6-4, 4-0 when everybody came up there, so it was fine. It’s a lot of pressure playing the last match, but it’s also a lot of fun.”
Memphis came into the match with wins against Tennessee and Vanderbilt already in their pocket, so the Rebels knew it would be a battle. The Rebels responded after digging an early hole by dropping the doubles point.
Freshman Nik Scholtz turned up the heat with his impressive 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 1 singles against Tiger Joe Salisbury. That put the Rebels on the board and gave them a much-needed lift.
Coach Chadwick switched up Marcel Thiemann and Jonas Lutjen in the lineup, and both delivered solid wins to give the Rebels a 3-1 lead. Thiemann downed Johnny Grimal 6-3, 6-1 on court three.
Lutjen’s match featured an up and down first set in which the junior from Schessel, Germany led UM’s David O’Hare 5-3 and served for the set, before getting broken. At 5-5, Lutjen broke and was able to serve it out 7-5. He used the momentum of winning a close first set to dominate the second 6-1.
“It was good to see Nik step up and get a straight set win, and Jonas did a good job of working through his match. He’s been playing well lately and it was good to see him step up in a pressure situation. Marcel played great at three. Backy was too strong at six,” Chadwick said.
Memphis won at No. 5 singles in straight sets and then dominated a third set on court four to even it up before Backstrom closed it out up at six.
The Rebels open up Southeastern Conference play Friday hosting No. 12 Auburn at 2 p.m. at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. Admission is free and fans will receive a collector’s poster of senior Marcel Thiemann.
For eight innings, Chris Ellis dueled Aaron Nola, the Southeastern Conference's leader in strikeouts (84) and earned run average (0.70) to a draw, as he left with the game with the score tied at 2-2. It was the eighth time... read more
Two new mock drafts released this week has former wide receiver Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief being selected in the late second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, set for May 8-10. NFL media analyst Bucky Brooks projects Moncrief... read more
With Billy Chadwick's last regular season in the books, the Rebels seem to be peeking and hoping to make a final postseason run for the legendary head coach. Corresponding with such, we are also getting down to our final stretch... read more
One spot in the ITA national rankings can make all the difference. Last season, San Diego, ranked No. 44 in the country, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, while crosstown rival, San Diego State, ranked No. 45, was... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 7-13, 2014Baseball- Ole Miss improved to 29-9 on the season and 9-6 in Southeastern Conference play after a pair of nonconference wins over Memphis and Murray State in the midweek and a series win... read more
Coming off a disappointing 6-5 loss in 10 innings Saturday, Ole Miss bounced back with a dominant 12-2 win Sunday to take the weekend series against Mississippi State in Starkville. At the plate, the Rebels set season high for runs... read more
Ole Miss struck early with five runs over the first four innings, which Chris Ellis and Wyatt Short made hold up in a 6-1 win over Mississippi State Friday night at Dudy Noble Field. The leadoff man for Mississippi State... read more
Riding a six-game win streak, Ole Miss travels to face Mississippi State in a three-game weekend series as part of Super Bulldog Weekend, which also includes Saturday's Maroon-White spring football game. Mississippi State has averaged 7,700 fans at Dudy Noble... read more