OXFORD, Miss. - For the first time this season, the No. 9 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team lost the doubles point and rallied to win a match, taking down No. 10 Tennessee 4-2 here Sunday at the Gillom Sports Center in front of a nice crowd on a rainy day.
With their two top-10 victories this weekend, the Rebels gained control of the SEC (4-0) and earned their 10th win of the season. On Friday, the Rebels rallied to knock off No. 7 Georgia 4-3 in thrilling fashion.
Tennessee was able to knock off the Rebel's top duo, Nik Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen, ranked No. 5 in the nation, at No. 1 doubles (8-3). Despite another win (8-5) from the team of Johan Backstrom and Stefan Lindmark at No. 2 doubles, the Volunteers would go on to win 8-6 at No. 3 to clinch the point.
Lindmark, playing just his second match at No. 3 singles, rebounded from a tough loss on Friday to defeat UT's Brandon Fickey 6-4, 6-3 to square the match at 1.
In all previous meetings indoors, Lutjen and Volunteer sophomore Hunter Reese have played three sets. Not Sunday, as Lutjen stepped up and put away Reese impressively, 6-2, 6-3 to give the Rebels a 2-1 lead.
In a battle between two top-20 players and two of the best No. 1 players in the SEC, sophomore Nik Scholtz dropped a tough three-setter to UT sophomore Mikelis Libietis at No. 1 singles. Libietis, ranked No. 13 nationally, gained the only break in the first set to win it 6-4, but Scholtz took the second set 6-1. Libietis got an early break in the third and that was all he needed to close out 12th-ranked Scholtz 6-3. That tied the overall match at 2.
Kallberg, the hero in Friday's win over Georgia, came through in a big way against Tennessee. Playing an opponent (Jarryd Chaplin) that has frustrated him indoors each time they've played, Kallberg rose to the occasion when his team needed him. Chaplin served for the first set at 5-3, but Kallberg rallied to win it 7-5 and then he went up an early break on his way to winning the second set 6-3 to put the Rebels up 3-2.
With court six having just finished the first set, Backstrom made sure it would not be needed as he finished off UT senior Ed Jones 6-1, 6-2 at No. 5 singles to clinch the victory.
The Rebels are the only remaining undefeated team in SEC play. "It's great to be 4-0, but we're not satisfied," Backstrom said. "We are going to keep going strong, and we are looking forward to the next opportunity and next challenge."
The next opportunity comes Thursday, March 14 as the Rebels welcome perennially power Baylor to the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center for a 1 p.m. match.
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