OXFORD, Miss. – They don’t get any bigger than Sunday’s match for the Ole Miss men’s tennis team, as the Rebels welcome arch-rival, No. 17 ranked Mississippi State, to the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center for a 1 p.m. match.
Fans coming to Sunday’s match will enjoy ice cream sundaes between doubles and singles and receive free pom poms and dog bandanas, as well as a collector poster of sophomore Stefan Lindmark.
Putting aside the obvious importance of playing your rival, the Rebels are looking for another top-25 win to add to their NCAA résumé.
“We know that we need to come up with a couple of big wins, and we are looking at this home match with Mississippi State as a chance to move up in the national rankings,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “If we are going to take down Mississippi State, we’re going to need a big crowd. I would like to see one of the largest crowds we have ever had.”
Mississippi State comes into Sunday’s match at 16-7 overall, 5-3 in the SEC. The Bulldogs swept both LSU and Arkansas last weekend. They are led by reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, Florian Lakat, who is ranked No. 67 in the nation and 10-6 at No. 1 singles.
The Rebels have won the last two meetings with Mississippi State, including a come-from-behind win in Starkville last March.
“They have a very similar team to us this year. They’ve done a good job of winning a lot of close matches,” Chadwick said. “Last year we took two out of three from them and beat them at their place, so I am sure they’ll come in here with a vengeance.”
Junior Nik Scholtz continues to lead the Rebels, riding a 10-match winning streak. He has not lost since Jan. 19, including a 9-0 record at No. 1 singles, 4-0 in the SEC. Scholtz is looking forward to this year’s match as he was hurt during last year’s regular season match and wasn’t able to compete at full strength.
“I was injured last year. We were losing, and then we had a rain delay. We came back [after the delay] and won all the remaining singles matches except for mine. Mentally it helps us, but I am sure they remember that too. It’s going to be a good match, it will definitely be a close one.”
The Rebels have wins against top-25 teams Tennessee and Vanderbilt, and they’ve been right there with a few other top teams.
“We’ve proven that we can beat top teams,” Scholtz said. “Despite what the rankings say, I believe we are a top team. The margins are so slim, that it’s the team who does the little things better, that will come out on top. If we play up to our potential, we can do it this weekend.”
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