Rebel Netters Drop Senior Day Match To No. 4 Tennessee 4-3
April 3, 2011
OXFORD, Miss. – Even though it was a beautiful day outside, 20mph winds forced the Ole Miss men’s tennis match against No. 4 Tennessee indoors at the Gillom Sports Center, where the Vols claimed a 4-3 win against the 25th-ranked Rebels on Senior Day.
The ITA/SEC rule states that if you have 20mph sustained winds or greater forecasted for two of the four hours the match is scheduled (1-5) then the match is moved indoors.
“We knew it would be a tough assignment going into this match and when we had to move indoors, that made it much tougher,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “They’ve been extremely successful indoors. They reached the finals of the ITA National Team Indoor and they’ve won every match that they’ve played indoors except the final against Virginia.”
Making it even tougher once inside was the absence of 2009 SEC Tournament MVP Kalle Norberg, who did not get to play in his final home match in Oxford. Norberg has been dealing with a foot injury that forced him to retire in his singles match against Georgia on Friday.
Tennessee took the early lead by winning the doubles point. The nation’s No. 1 ranked team of J.P. Smith and Boris Conkic handed the Rebel brothers Marcel Thiemann and Chris Thiemann an 8-0 loss at No. 1. Jonas Lutjen and Johan Backstrom lost to UT’s Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren 8-5 at No. 2.
In singles, Williams, ranked No. 4 in the nation defeated the Rebels’ other senior, Tucker Vorster, 6-4, 6-0 at No. 2 singles to make it 2-0 Vols.
The other two matches on court were heating up. Marcel Thiemann, ranked No. 40 in the nation, was battling Tennessee’s J.P. Smith, ranked No. 12. After losing the first set 6-2, Thiemann broke Smith at 6-5 to grab the second set. Smith gained control of the third set with an early break and never looked back winning it 6-1 to increase his team’s lead to 3-0.
The match was over when Lutjen lost his three-setter to Sandgren at three. Lutjen won the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6(5), but Sandgren claimed the second and third sets 6-3, 6-3 to clinch the win for the Vols.
“I thought the guys competed really hard. The No. 1 match could have gone either way. If we get that one then I thought we had great chances at four, five and six. Three could have gone either way too. If we get either one or both then we’re playing four, five and six with a chance to win,” Chadwick said.
Chris Thiemann won his match at four in a third-set supertiebreaker, and then Tennessee retired in the last two matches with the Rebels up at six and on serve at five.
The road doesn’t get any easier, as the Rebels travel to Alabama and Auburn next weekend followed by the final regular season match at Mississippi State. However, the team controls its destiny.
“We can still win the SEC West, but we’ve got three tough matches on the road,” Chadwick said. We’ll be working hard this week to get ready for them.”
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