OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss men's tennis junior Nik Scholtz earned his second consecutive big win, knocking off No. 11 ranked Yannick Hanfmann of Southern California Wednesday afternoon at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. However, the Rebels succumbed to the No. 4 ranked Trojans 5-2 in the overall score.
"We know that USC is one of the top teams in the country, and they showed that today," head coach Billy Chadwick said. "Across the board we are getting better with every match. Because of this match, I feel like we are better prepared for the match coming up on Friday."
The Trojans started out strong in the doubles taking the top two spots 8-3 for the first point of the match. Ole Miss led the No. 3 match 5-4.
Southern California picked up straight set wins in singles on courts two, three and six to clinch the victory. The highlight of the day for the Rebels, was Scholtz beating one of the top players in straight sets, and senior Johan Backstrom coming back to win his match at No. 4 singles.
On Sunday, Scholtz beat the No. 10 ranked player, for his first win in awhile. Six of his matches have not finished this year, making it hard for him to get wins. But Wednesday, the coaches elected to play out the match once it was decided, and Scholtz delivered to the fans who stayed to see the completion. Up 7-5, the two played to a second set tiebreaker, which Scholtz won 7-6(5) for the victory.
"I know my opponent pretty well, he's a very good player," Scholtz said. "I knew it was going to come down to one or two hits of the ball. I was able to get those points today. I have a lot of respect for him. I am happy with the win, it's a good one for me.
"He's one of the top players in the country," Chadwick said of Hanfmann. "The unfortunate thing for Nik, is that we've played a lot of matches that were clinched at four and he hasn't been able to finish. From an NCAA standpoint, selection and seeding, these two matches are really key for him."
Despite the back-to-back top wins, Scholtz believes he can play even better.
"Today was tough, it was real windy. Everyone was making errors that they don't normally make. Especially playing in the center courts, it's really swirly. The ball is coming right at you and next thing you know it's going left or right. It's hard to adapt. Today was all about doing what it takes to win; it wasn't going to be too pretty. I am happy I was able to do it."
With the win, Scholtz, who came in ranked No. 44 in the nation, improved to 14-5 overall and 5-0 at No. 1 singles. He is likely to move up in next week's ranking after two consecutive top-11 wins.
As a team, the Rebels must regroup quickly, as they get set to host Arkansas and LSU this weekend. The Arkansas match on Friday will begin at 2 p.m., and fans will enjoy free pizza between doubles and singles.
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