NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the second SEC match in a row, Ole Miss men’s tennis sophomore Stefan Lindmark came up big, clinching a 4-2 win for the Rebels against No. 18 Tennessee in the second round of the SEC Tournament here Friday at the Currey Tennis Center.
With the win, the Rebels advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round where they will face the No. 3 seed, Kentucky, at 9 a.m.
Ole Miss won a huge doubles point and then earned straight set wins from Johan Backstrom and Nik Scholtz to set up Lindmark’s clinching victory at No. 3 singles. Lindmark found himself in a similar situation as the Texas A&M match, up a set and a break in the second against Jarryd Chaplin. After Lindmark won the first set 6-3, Chaplin was able to win the second set in a tiebreaker 7-6(4) to force a third set and keep his team’s chances alive. Lindmark faced several break points on his serve in the first game, but held and shut out Chaplin 6-0 to clinch the 4-2 victory.
“This is exactly the type of match we expected,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “Every single match in the conference, the margins are so small, it comes down to one or two hits of the ball. I’ll give them credit, (Jarryd) Chaplin at 3, in the tiebreaker really played great. He was all on it, putting pressure on us. I felt like we won that one when we had some great hits and break points on us the first game of the third. Stefan wormed his way through that one and then we found our game.”
The doubles point was an exciting one, as the Rebels raced to a big lead at one and had a break at three, but the Vols rallied to tie both matches. Johan Backstrom and Joe Rogers led UT’s Brandon Fickey and Bartosz Sawickci 6-4, but UT would force a tiebreaker. Tennessee had a match point before the Reb duo won three straight points to win it 8-7(7).
At No. 1, Kallberg and Lindmark got off to a fast start up 5-2 on the nation’s No. 1 team, Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, before the Vol duo came back to even it up at 5. The Rebels were able to break Reese’s serve at 6-5 and then Kallberg served it out for 8-5 to clinch the early momentum. The win marked the second consecutive top-8 win for 51st-ranked Kallberg and Lindmark, who beat the No. 6 ranked team in the win over Texas A&M last weekend.
“The doubles was huge,” Chadwick said. “They had a match point in the doubles, but all the doubles are very, very close.”
The Rebels were able to take four first sets in singles to keep momentum, while the Vols won two. In the two they won, Tennessee ended up taking both matches to go ahead 2-1 in the overall match. Libietis won two tight sets against Kallberg 7-6, 6-4, and then Andrew Dromsky handed freshman Ricardo Jorge a 7-6, 6-1 loss on court five.
Backstrom finished a 2-0 day, defeating Brandon Fickey 6-4, 6-3 at No. 4 to even the match, and then Nik Scholtz gave the Rebels a 3-2 lead by winning a huge second set tiebreaker. Scholtz, ranked No. 18 in the nation dominated 27th-ranked Hunter Reese 6-1 in the first set, but faced three set points, in the second set tiebreaker. At 7-8, Scholtz won three straight points to clinch the match 6-1, 7-6(8) to put the Rebels ahead and set up Lindmark’s clinching match.
“I would like to give a shout out our lone senior Johan,” Chadwick said. “He really played well. He beat a good player, (Fickey) in straight sets. And then a great job all year long by our No. 1 player Nik Scholtz. He may be the premier player of the league.”
Fans can follow Friday’s match against Kentucky with live scoring. In the first meeting in Lexington, weather forced the match indoors. It was a very close affair with Kentucky coming out on top 4-1.
Follow the Rebels on Twitter, @OleMissMTennis and on Facebook at OleMissMTennis. Also, follow @SECMTennis for updates throughout the tournament. Use the hashtag #SECMT14 when tweeting about the tournament.
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