By Britni Riley Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
Calm. Cool. Clutch. Those are three words that easily come to mind when describing Ole Miss men's tennis freshman Stefan Lindmark, nicknamed "Slick."
The Swedish lefty is fast making his mark for the Rebels, which currently rank No. 9 in the nation and sit atop the Southeastern Conference standings at 4-0 after a huge weekend.
Lindmark has had a hand in all four of the Rebels' conference wins. In fact, he saved the Rebels from defeat in their first SEC match of the season on the road at Alabama. The Stockholm native saved five match points at No. 4 singles to win a third set tiebreaker 12-10 and secure a 4-3 win for the Rebels. This was after he teamed with Johan Backstrom to clinch the doubles point. At Auburn, Lindmark helped clinch the doubles point and won at No. 4 singles in straight sets to put the Rebels up 3-0, which ultimately led to his teammate's clinching win at No. 6 after Auburn tied it at 3.
"I actually like playing under pressure," Lindmark said. "It's a lot of fun; even having the crowd against me motivates me."
For his outstanding performance during the opening weekend of conference play, Lindmark was named the SEC Freshman of the Week last week, his first such honor.
"It feels good and it boosts my confidence, but obviously I just hope as a team we can keep getting better," he said.
The Rebels are in the midst of a five match homestand, dubbed the "Spring Break Slam," which started off with a bang this past weekend. The Rebels rallied to knock off No. 7 Georgia 4-3 before coming back to beat No. 10 Tennessee 4-2.
After starting out the year at No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles, Lindmark moved to No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles with Backstrom against Georgia and Tennessee. He finished the weekend 3-1, including clinching the doubles point against the Bulldogs, which proved to be the difference in the match. Sunday, he won both his doubles and singles. His singles win put the Rebels on the board.
Lindmark, 8-2 in dual matches and 3-1 in the SEC, feels that the Rebels can keep the momentum going when they host Baylor, Kentucky and Vanderbilt later this week.
"I am very confident," he said. "I have been playing well lately, and if everyone just does what they are supposed to do, we can win all our matches."
Before Lindmark started playing for the Rebels last fall, he was ranked the top junior player in Sweden and ranked as high as No. 40 in the ITF Junior World Rankings. He played at Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open.
The Rebels have a rich tradition, which includes a long list of talented players from Sweden. Lindmark came to Ole Miss because of those connections and that history.
"I was looking at a few schools like UCLA and Pepperdine," said Lindmark. "But I felt like I would be more comfortable with the other guys and Coach Toby (Hansson), who are from Sweden. We have a great team, we all get along, so I am glad I chose to come here."
When they signed him, both head coach Billy Chadwick and Hansson talked of Lindmark being the type of player to make an impact in the SEC.
"Stefan has been a key factor in the team's success contributing in both singles and doubles," said Hansson, who was instrumental in his recruitment. "First of all, he is a very good player with a solid foundation, and a wealth of experience for just a freshman. Secondly, he just seems to thrive in the team competition, especially when it gets down to the wire; that's when he enjoys the game the most."
Playing in the SEC each week, Lindmark is sure to get plenty more opportunities to showcase his late match heroics to the delight of Rebel fans.
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