STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Ole Miss men’s tennis team posted a big win late Friday against Florida and was looking to maintain momentum heading into Saturday’s SEC Championship Semifinal match against top-seeded Kentucky. Unfortunately, the Rebels fell behind early and couldn’t recover, as they dropped a 4-0 decision to the Wildcats.
In their previous meeting, the Rebels took the doubles point and then lost four of the six singles. This time, Kentucky took the early lead with wins at Nos. 1 and 3 doubles. Their No. 1 team of Panav Jha and Eric Quigley ranked No. 12 in the nation, defeated 21st-ranked Nik Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen 8-5 to clinch the point.
“We didn’t play as well as we had been playing in the doubles. That set the tone for the match,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “We needed to be at our absolute best in doubles. They played great at No. 1 doubles and on three it was just one break. We were going to win at No. 2 doubles.”
Ole Miss split on courts five and three, but the match ended when third-ranked Eric Quigley finished off a close match (6-4, 7-5) against 15th-ranked Scholtz at No. 1 singles.
The Rebels (13-8) went into the SEC Championship pretty much thinking they needed a win over Florida to have any chance of hosting an NCAA Regional. They downed Arkansas 4-0 in the first round and then topped Florida 4-1 in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals for the 15th time in program history.
“It was a competitive match, and we feel like if we got to play them again it might be a different outcome,” Chadwick said. “All-in-all, it was a good tournament for us with a big win against Florida. We positioned ourselves to have a great chance at hosting an NCAA Regional.”
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