OXFORD, Miss. – A big opportunity awaits the No. 12 nationally ranked Ole Miss men’s tennis team as they head to Seattle, Wash., to compete for a national title at the ITA National Team Indoor. Before making their way to Washington, the Rebels will stop off in Oregon for a Wednesday match against Portland.
The Portland match, which will start at 12 p.m. CT, was added after the Rebels qualified for the National Team Indoor.
The Rebels’ first opponent at the National Team Indoor will be a familiar one as they take on No. 6 Georgia (4-1) Friday at 10 a.m. CT., at the Seattle Tennis Club. The last time the Rebels qualified for the finals, they faced the Bulldogs in the first round. With a win, Ole Miss would meet the winner of No. 3 UCLA/No. 14 Tennessee in quarterfinal action on Saturday. The semifinals are scheduled for Sunday and the final Monday.
Ole Miss clinched its 18th overall National Team Indoor appearance and first since 2010 during the ITA Kick-Off weekend hosted in Oxford Jan. 25-26. The Rebels advanced by defeating Columbia 4-1 and NC State 4-0 in the first and second rounds. Prior to the 2011 season, the Rebels held the second longest consecutive appearance streak at 17 straight.
Georgia comes into the weekend at 4-1 with their only loss also coming to a top-10 team (Ohio State).
“It’s an honor to make the tournament, but we need to take advantage of it and post some wins against some of these top teams,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “We are obviously very familiar with Georgia. They have a great team with experience like us, and it should be a great match.”
Many of the two teams’ matches have come down to the wire lately including that last National Indoor meeting, which Georgia won 4-3. Seniors Jonas Lutjen, ranked No. 6 nationally, and Adrian Forberg Skogeng were on the team that year, but it will be a new experience for most of the current team.
“It’s going to be fun. This is the first time for most of us to be in this tournament, and we are looking forward to it,” said sophomore William Kallberg, who moved up to No. 40 in the latest singles rankings. “It’s a great opportunity for us to position ourselves in the rankings and for later on down the road and hosting NCAA first and second rounds.”
In their last match, the Rebels (2-1) lost to No. 10 ranked Mississippi State 4-2 in the River Hills Mississippi Cup. The Rebels had chances in the nearly six-hour affair, but the Bulldogs capitalized on their opportunities.
“State is one of the top teams, along with us, in the conference. In fact there are seven or eight teams in the conference that could win it,” Chadwick said. “The match we had down there went back and forth, and that is the type of match we’re going to face each time out in the SEC as well as this weekend. We have to get tougher and a little better on the big points.”
“We’ve moved on from last week, and we are just practicing hard to get ready for the opportunity in front of us,” said Kallberg, who improved to 14-4 overall and 3-0 in dual matches with his incredible comeback last Thursday. “I am playing well right now. I’ve been working hard all fall and during the winter break, and it’s paying off.”
All matches at the National Team Indoor will feature live scoring, and any matches the Rebels play at the Nordstrom Tennis Center will also include live video. Georgia will also have a live blog during the match. Go to OleMissSports.com and click on the link in the calendar for the tournament central page.
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