OXFORD, Miss. - Four of the No. 14 nationally ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team's seven losses this year have been 4-3, and on Senior Day Saturday in front of a huge crowd at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center, it was No. 9 Mississippi State who handed the Rebels another tough loss to end the regular season.
The Rebels (11-7, 7-4) began the day by honoring the senior duo of Chris Thiemann and Marcel Thiemann. Nik Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen gave the Rebels a huge lift to start the match, dominating the State team of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp 8-0 at No. 1 doubles. Things looked to be good for the Rebels to claim the opening point, with Johan Backstrom and William Kallberg up two breaks at 4-1 down on court three. However, the Bulldog tandem of Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson rallied to win it 8-6, clinching the point after the Bulldogs had won 8-4 at No. 2 doubles.
In singles, Ole Miss won three first sets, as did MSU. In one of those matches, Marcel Thiemann, ranked No. 27 nationally, dominated State's James Chaudry 6-0, 6-3 at No. 2 to put the Rebels on the board. Marcel finished his last season as a Rebel 10-1 at No. 2 singles.
"This was not the best day for us. We started slow today by losing the doubles point. You can always come back, but in singles, we didn't execute as well as we needed to. That hurt us. It's sad that it was my last regular season home match. I've had a great time here. The fans were great today. I am so happy that I came to Ole Miss and I would do it all over again."
The Bulldogs finished off straight set wins on courts five, four and one in that order to put away the match. Chris Thiemann was not as fortunate on Senior Day, falling to George Coupland 6-3, 6-2 at No. 5.
Freshman William Kallberg dropped his match to Louis Cant, ranked No. 40, 6-4, 6-2 on court four. That made it 3-1.
With Jonas Lutjen and Johan Backstrom up in their matches, the Rebels knew they needed another win, but State erased any doubt when 15th-ranked Artem Ilyushin completed a 6-4, 6-1 win over Scholtz at No. 1.
The Rebels earned the No. 5 seed in the upcoming SEC Championship and will face Arkansas in the first round Thursday, April 19 in Starkville at 5 p.m. The complete bracket is linked above.
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