AUBURN, Ala. – The Ole Miss men’s tennis team is guaranteed to have a finalist in the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championships as both Nik Scholtz and William Kallberg won Saturday to set up a semifinal meeting Sunday at the Yarbrough Tennis Center.
Both Scholtz and Kallberg topped Mississippi State players to advance to the semifinals, securing a third straight year that the Rebels will have a finalist in singles.
Scholtz, the top seed, had to battle back after dropping the first set to State’s Jordan Angus in a tiebreaker. The 2012 SEC Freshman of the Year served for the first set at 5-4, and got broken. Angus went on to win the tiebreaker 7-6(5). Scholtz came out better in the second, taking it 6-2 to set up the decisive set. Struggling on his serve all day, Scholtz was broken again at 5-4 in the third, but at 6-5, he held serve to clinch the victory.
His teammate, Kallberg, continued his solid play at the regional, with a straight set win against State’s James Chaudry. Kallberg, the sixth seed, topped fourth-seeded Chaudry 6-3, 6-4 for his fourth victory in a row without dropping a set.
Junior Johan Backstrom advanced to the semifinals of the consolation draw with two straight set wins. In the third round, he downed Cedric Rutsaert of Tulane 6-2, 6-4 and then in the quarterfinals, Backstrom defeated Auburn’s Tom Puetz 7-6(3), 6-1.
While the Rebels are still on track to win their second singles title in three years, they will not three-peat in doubles, as the top seed, Scholtz and senior Jonas Lutjen were eliminated in the third round 9-7 by the Alabama duo of Becker O’Shaugnessy and Jarryd Botha. Scholtz and Lutjen did not get off to a great start in the match, trailing 4-0 early. But they battled back to take a 7-6 lead before the Crimson Tide tandem won the final three games.
“We are excited to have a finalist for the third year in a row,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “Nik didn’t play his best, but he hung in there to come away with the win. William is playing great tennis right now. Chaudry is a very good player. Unfortunately, our streak in the doubles comes to an end. Jonas was having trouble holding serve, and we got down early in the match. They came back, but couldn’t hold on.”
Scholtz and Kallberg will face each other at 10 a.m. Sunday in one of two semifinal matches. The other semifinal features O’Shaugnessy against State’s Romain Bogaerts.
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