NASHVILLE, Tenn. --The Ole Miss men’s tennis team and No. 12 Kentucky battled for almost three and a half hours Friday morning at the Currey Tennis Center, before the Wildcats closed out the Rebels in a tight 4-2 match in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.
With the loss, the Rebels (15-13) will now wait to find out their destination for the NCAA Championships, while Kentucky advances to the semifinals to face the winner of the Texas A&M/LSU match.
After two consecutive wins against No. 10 Texas A&M and No. 18 Tennessee yesterday, the Rebels were unable to come up with another one, but they had chances even after dropping a close doubles point.
With senior Johan Backstrom up a set and just beginning a second set tiebreaker at No. 4 singles, UK’s 80th-ranked Alejandro Gomez finished off a comeback win against William Kallberg 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-3 at No. 2 singles to clinch the 4-2 win.
“I thought that we played well in singles, but they did too,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “They are a very tough group and they are a very emotional group, and they deserved the victory.”
Kentucky took the early 1-0 lead with an 8-6 win at No. 2 doubles, followed by another one at No. 1. After two straight top-8 wins, including the No. 1 team on Thursday, William Kallberg and Stefan Lindmark were unable to get by 39th-ranked Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai, falling 8-6.
The Rebels bounced back in singles to win four first sets, including two huge tiebreakers at one and two. Kentucky went ahead 2-0 as Lai defeated freshman Ricardo Jorge 6-3, 6-3 at No. 5 singles.
Lindmark won his third straight SEC match and put the Rebels on the board, beating Beck Pennington 6-3, 7-5 at No. 3 singles.
Kentucky increased their lead to 3-1 when Grant Roberts defeated Zach Wilder 6-3, 6-4 on court six.
Nik Scholtz, ranked No. 18 in the nation, put the Rebels within one (3-2) with another impressive win against 11th-ranked Jomby. Scholtz won the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6(5) and then was able to break early in the second and hold for 6-4 and his fourth top-12 win of the year, including twice against Jomby. Scholtz improved to 15-1 at No. 1 singles.
The NCAA Championship selections and sites will be announced Tuesday, April 29 at 4 p.m. CT.
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