OXFORD, Miss. - The Ole Miss men's tennis team begins the 2013 season ranked No. 13 in the nation, as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced its preseason team rankings as well as the latest individual rankings, Thursday. The Rebels continue to boast the top player in the Southeastern Conference in singles, with senior Jonas Lutjen moving up to a career-high No. 5 in the nation.
The tradition of excellence continued with the Rebels' earning the program's 17th top 15 preseason ranking in 20 years. It also marks the 26th consecutive year for the Rebels to be among the preseason top 25.
The preseason team rankings are based mostly on the 2012 final ranking and results. The Rebels will have plenty of opportunities to make a statement as the SEC leads the nation with eight teams in the top 25. Fourteen of the Rebels' opponents are ranked inside the top 40.
"We are very excited about this spring," said head coach Billy Chadwick, who begins his 30th season with the men's team. "The guys have worked hard all fall and we have our sights on a championship season. We have a great home schedule, beginning with the ITA Kickoff Weekend and including six SEC matches as well as hosting the SEC Tournament [in April]."
Lutjen, arguably one of the most improved players in the nation, boasted a team-leading 14-3 fall record including winning the Southern Intercollegiate and the ITA All-American Consolation bracket. The Schessel, Germany native leads nine SEC players in the singles top 25.
"Jonas had an outstanding fall," Chadwick said. "He is building on last year's success of making the NCAA field in singles, and we are looking for great things from him in the New Year."
Last year's SEC Freshman of the Year, sophomore Nik Scholtz is ranked No. 33 in the nation. He finished the fall with an 8-2 record including capturing the ITA Southern Regional singles title.
Fellow sophomore William Kallberg is ranked No. 95 in singles after posting a 9-3 fall record.
Ole Miss boasts two teams in the doubles rankings with Kallberg and senior Adrian Forberg Skogeng at No. 25. Lutjen and Scholtz began the fall ranked No. 2 in the country, but with limited results, start the spring at No. 43.
The Rebels kick off the spring Jan. 18-21 at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Desert Springs, Calif., before hosting the ITA Kickoff Weekend Jan. 25-26 at the Gillom Sports Center.
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