CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – With winds whipping at the Atkins Tennis Center here Wednesday, conditions were tough for all competitors on the first day of the NCAA Singles Championship, but Ole Miss men’s tennis senior Jonas Lutjen handled it fine to advance to the second round with a straight set win over North Carolina sophomore Esben Hess-Olesen.
Lutjen, ranked No. 20 in the nation, won a huge first set tiebreaker after missing an opportunity to serve out the set at 6-5. Trailing 6-4 in the breaker, the ITA Southern Region Senior of the Year won three of the next four points to tie it at seven. He won the final two points to win it 7-6(7) and take the early advantage. One break is all he needed in the second set to win it 6-3 and move on to the second round for the second year in a row.
“Jonas played well,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “The wind was worse at the start of the day, but he held his own. It was huge for him to get that first set tiebreaker. The first round is always tricky to get through. Tomorrow he gets an opportunity to face a seeded player and hopefully keep it going.”
Lutjen improved to 31-10 overall on the year and will meet 9-16 seed Kyle McMorrow of Washington in the second round Thursday at 9:30 a.m. McMorrow, ranked 17th nationally, didn’t drop a game in his first round match.
Unfortunately, Lutjen’s teammate and doubles partner, sophomore Nik Scholtz, didn’t fare as well, going out in the first round after reaching the Elite Eight last year as a freshman. Scholtz, seeded 9-16, struggled early against Tulsa’s Clifford Marsland losing the first set 6-1. He got down an early break in the second, and finally got going in the middle of the set, but Marsland served it out 6-3 to knock off the nation’s 14th-ranked player. Scholtz ends the year at 20-9 in singles.
“It was a combination of Nik not playing well, and the other guy playing well,” Chadwick said. “The guy didn’t make too many mistakes and didn’t allow Nik to get into the match. By the time Nik was able to get going a little in the middle of the second set, it was hard to hold him off. It’s been a tough last couple of months for Nik with the injury and not being at the top of his game like we are used to seeing, but he’ll bounce back.”
Scholtz will cheer on Lutjen in the singles tomorrow and then the two will team up for their first round of doubles. The third-seeded duo will face Indiana's Isade Juneau and Sam Monette. The times for the first round of doubles have not been set yet. Check @OleMissTennis on Twitter for updates. All matches during the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships feature live scoring at video, which can be accessed by going to OleMissSports.com and clicking on the link in the calendar.
NCAA Singles Championship – Champaign, Ill. First Round Jonas Lutjen (OM) def. Esben Hess-Olesen (UNC) 7-6(7), 6-3; Clifford Marsland (TULSA) def. (9-16) Nik Scholtz (OM) 6-1, 6-3.
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