OXFORD, Miss. – In a match that featured an hour rain-delay and ultimately finished some six hours after the start, ended with the Ole Miss men’s tennis team suffering a 4-2 loss to No. 31 Auburn here Friday at the Gillom Sports Center.
The match came down to the lower part of the lineup, with the Rebels trailing 3-1 and needing to win all three. Johan Backstrom put the Rebels to within one, but Auburn freshman Dante Saleh rallied to beat Rebel freshman Ricardo Jorge 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 5 to clinch the victory.
“It was your typical SEC match, very similar to last year’s match,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “The difference is we won it. The effort from the guys was really good. Auburn really played well down the stretch, especially to win the last match against Ricardo. We put ourselves in a hole going down 3-1 with only three courts and knowing those guys had to be perfect.”
With the loss, the Rebels fell to 2-4 overall and 0-1 in the SEC, while Auburn improved to 11-4 and 1-0. Ole Miss will host Alabama Sunday at 1 p.m., looking to snap a two-match losing streak and get their first conference win. The first 200 fans will receive a free Ole Miss spring break tank top.
Doubles has been an issue for Ole Miss thus far, and it was again Friday. It was another close point, but the Rebels couldn’t convert any break point chances and Auburn won 8-5 at No. 1 and 8-6 at No. 2.
Once doubles ended, it began to rain. After waiting it out for about 30 minutes, the match was moved indoors with only three courts.
Auburn was able to maintain the momentum, winning two of the top three to go up 3-0. Stefan Lindmark fell to Daniel Cochrane 6-3, 6-1 and then William Kallberg both lost to Dennis Lengsfeld 7-5, 6-4. Nik Scholtz put the Rebels on the board with a 6-0, 7-6 win at No. 1 singles against Lukas Ollert.
Needing to win all three remaining courts, the Rebels’ sent four, five and six out to try and do just that. Senior Johan Backstrom gave the Rebels a chance, beating Joseph Van Dooren 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 at No. 4.
It looked as if the Rebels might rally for the win after taking the first sets at five and six as well with Ricardo Jorge and Vinod Gowda.
However, both their opponents would win the second sets to send keep them alive. Jorge, playing in his first home match, dominated the first set against Auburn freshman Dante Saleh 6-2. He had multiple chances to break in the second set, but alas, it was Saleh who broke at 5-4 to force the deciding set. Saleh raced out to a big lead and held for 6-3 to clinch the victory for his team.
“Backy did a good job of winning his match as did Nik, and we had a good look at the other two winning the first two sets, Chadwick said. “We just couldn’t close it out.”
When the match was stopped, Auburn’s Oliver Plaskett led Gowda 1-0 in the third set.
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