FLUSHING, N.Y. – The Ole Miss men’s tennis team had a perfect first day at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships Thursday, as Nik Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen both advanced in singles and then teamed up to post a win in doubles at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center.
Both Scholtz and Lutjen won three-set matches to advance to the second round of singles. The Rebels are one of two schools (Virginia the other) to have more than one player remaining in the draw.
Scholtz, seeded No. 7, defeated UCLA’s Dennis Mkrtchian 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, while Lutjen posted the biggest upset of the day, shocking No. 2 seed Peter Kobelt of Ohio State 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(1).
Scholtz, ranked No. 5 in the nation was first off the court against Mkrtchian. The two traded breaks early on in the match, but then Scholtz was able to break at 4-3 and serve it out to take the early lead. In the second set, Mkrtchian broke at 5-5 to win it 7-5. Scholtz put it behind him quickly, gaining two breaks to go up 4-1 in the final set. Mkrtchian got one of the breaks back, but serving to stay in the match at 5-3, Scholtz broke him again to clinch it.
Now 8-1 on the year, Scholtz will face Mississippi State’s Romain Bogaerts in the second round in a rematch of the ITA Southern Regional final which Scholtz won 7-5, 6-4.
Lutjen, ranked No. 21 in the nation, has taken his game to a new level this fall, and he cemented that Friday with a huge win against Kobelt, who finished runner-up at the ITA All-American. After dropping the first set 6-3, Lutjen got it going in the second set and won 6-2. Lutjen (14-2) dominated the third set tiebreaker 7-1 to secure his biggest win as a Rebel and move on to a second round meeting against Tennessee’s Mikelis Libietis.
“Overall it was a really good match against a great player,” Lutjen said. “He served well the entire match, so I had to be mentally tough and convert the [break] chances I got. In the tiebreak I got off to a great start and fought hard for every point. I played big in the pressure situations today and I am happy to come away with a win.”
Scholtz and Lutjen were a late addition to the doubles draw after Oklahoma’s players had difficulty getting to New York due to weather. After a first round bye, the No. 2 ranked Rebs dominated the Virginia Tech duo of Andreas Bjerrehus and Amerigo Contini 8-2 to advance to the quarterfinals, where they will face Ben Wagland and Hernus Pieters of Georgia.
Play continues Friday with the potential for two rounds of singles and then one round of doubles.
For complete coverage of the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships, including access to draws, live scores and more, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, for updates and news from Flushing. Use the hashtag #NationalIndoors for all tweets in regards to the event.
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