SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The career of Ole Miss men’s tennis head coach Billy Chadwick came to an end here Sunday at the Courtney Tennis Center, as the Rebels lost a tight 4-2 match to No. 13 Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Championships.
With the loss, the Rebels end Chadwick’s final season at 16-14, while Notre Dame advances to the Sweet Sixteen.
“There’s so much parity in college tennis now,” said Chadwick. “It’s really hard to predict the winners. “I thought that Notre Dame played really, really well. And we knew that they were good. The crowd did a great job of really pushing them in those tight moments. It was a great college match where it came down to one or two hits of the ball, and today was their day and congratulations to them.”
As was the case in the Rebels’ first round win over Northwestern, Sunday’s match came down to a three-setter, this time at No. 3 singles. With junior Nik Scholtz on serve in the third set at No. 1 singles, sophomore Stefan Lindmark was broken serving at 4-5 in the third set to Quentin Monaghan to give the Irish the 4-2 win.
For the second straight day, the Rebels lost the doubles point, but they had a chance to win the opening point. After Notre Dame won 8-2 at No. 1, Scholtz and Ricardo Jorge defeated their opponents 8-4 at No. 2. Down a break most of the match at No. 3, Johan Backstrom and Joe Rogers got back on serve, but Backstrom was broken serving at 6-7 to give the Irish the point.
In singles, Notre Dame won four first sets to maintain momentum, but like Saturday, the Rebels battled to get to third sets. In one of the matches where the Rebels got the first set, Jorge defeated Eddy Covalschi 6-4, 6-4 at No. 5 to tie the match.
Notre Dame briefly regained the lead as Eric Schnurrenberger defeated freshman Vinod Gowda 6-3, 7-5 at No. 6 singles.
After dropping the first set at No. 2 singles, junior William Kallberg came back to beat Ryan Bandy 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to square the match again.
With the No. 1 and 3 matches in third sets, Backstrom was trying to get his to a third as well, but ND’s Josh Hagar took the second set tiebreak and the match 6-4, 7-6(3) to give the Irish a 3-2 lead.
Lindmark, the other Rebel to win his first set, had chances to win going up 4-2 in the final set, before Monaghan answered to get it back on serve at 4-4. He held serve before breaking Lindmark for the win.
When play was stopped, Scholtz, ranked No. 12 in the nation, was serving to force a tiebreaker for the match at No. 1 against 24th-ranked Greg Andrews.
The season is not quite over for Scholtz, who is seeded 9-16 in the NCAA Singles Championship, which begins May 21 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. The SEC Player of the Year is looking to make a run at the title after reaching the quarterfinals as a freshman.
That same day, Chadwick will be inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Hall of Fame. Look for more in the coming weeks on Chadwick’s legacy leading up to his induction.
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