ATHENS, Ga. – For the third straight day at the NCAA Singles Championship, Ole Miss men’s tennis junior Nik Scholtz played three sets. This time however, Scholtz was on the other side of a three-setter, dropping a close match to UCLA freshman Mackenzie McDonald in the round of 16, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 to end the season here Friday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
Scholtz concludes an outstanding season at 27-7 overall, 15-1 at No. 1 singles. He became the fourth Rebel to be named SEC Player of the Year and the first to earn SEC Freshman and Player of the Year honors during his career.
McDonald came to UCLA with a top-notch pedigree having been ranked as high as No. 12 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, but Scholtz gained the early momentum to start the match. Scholtz gained an early break, and serving well, did not take long to win it 6-1.
In the second round, Scholtz got down an early break in the second set after winning the first, and unfortunately, it happened again Friday. At 2-4 in the second, Scholtz had two break points, but couldn’t convert as McDonald went on to win the set 6-3.
At 1-1 in the third, Scholtz missed a forehand wide on break point. He would break back and then save a break point to go up 3-2. But at 3-3 McDonald broke Scholtz again. Never giving up, Scholtz got himself two more break points in the next game, but each time McDonald answered and held for 5-3. After Scholtz held, McDonald served it out 6-4 for the match.
“Nik played really well in the first set, but McDonald also didn’t play that well,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “He raised his game in the second set though, and showed why he was the top recruit coming into college tennis this year. Nik had chances in that third set even after getting broken a second time. He had a great season and proved he is one of the top players in college tennis.”
The loss officially ends the 2013-14 season for the Rebels and the legendary career of Coach Chadwick.
“The last 35 years have been fantastic,” Chadwick said. “I’ve had the pleasure of coaching many great players and teams and they are what made it a joy to do this every day. I’ve worked with some great assistant coaches and support staff, and the administration has been very supportive of our tennis program.”
Chadwick hands the reigns of the program to associate head coach Toby Hansson. The Rebels return six of their top seven players and will be bolstered by one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.
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