OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss men’s tennis team is tough to beat at home. They will seek to hold serve this weekend when they begin the 2013 season hosting the ITA Kick-Off Weekend Friday and Saturday at the Gillom Sports Center.
This marks the beginning of the dual match season for the Rebels, who come into the weekend ranked No. 13 in the nation and boast an impressive 135-18 home record since 2000.
The ITA Kick-Off Weekend serves as the first and second rounds of the ITA National Team Indoor, played at 15 different sites around the nation. This marks the third time for the Rebels to host this event.
Ole Miss will face Columbia in the first round Friday at 2 p.m. Louisville and NC State will meet at 9 a.m. Friday. The winners will play Saturday at 1 p.m. for the right to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Final 16 in Seattle, Wash., Feb. 15-18.
“We’ve played Columbia a couple of times in the past, and they always have an excellent program,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “They are a really good indoor team, so we’ll have to be at our best. We want to encourage all the Ole Miss fans to come out and help us try to advance to the Final 16.”
Picked by the league coaches to win the SEC overall championship this year, the Rebels return five of the top seven from 2012, including two All-Americans in senior Jonas Lutjen and last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year, Nik Scholtz. Lutjen is ranked No. 5 in the nation in singles and Scholtz comes in at No. 30. In doubles, sophomore William Kallberg and senior Adrian Forberg Skogeng are ranked No. 25, while Lutjen and Scholtz are No. 43. Also back is junior Johan Backstrom who clinched the team’s berth in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen last year.
“We will definitely miss the T-brothers (All-Americans Marcel Thiemann and Chris Thiemann), they did a great job for us for years. We return the core of our team from last year, and each player on the team has really improved. So as much as we’re going to miss Marcel and Chris, we have the potential to be as strong as we were last year and hopefully stronger.”
Columbia comes into the weekend 0-1 after dropping a close 4-3 match to No. 58 BYU. The Lions are one of six Ivy League teams ranked in the ITA Top 75 coming in at No. 44. This is their second trip to Oxford for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, as they also came here in 2010. The Lions are led by Winston Lin, the 2012 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, who is ranked No. 44 in singles.
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