OXFORD, Miss. - For the 11th time in the history of the program and the second year in a row, the Ole Miss men’s tennis team will host the NCAA first and second rounds at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center May 10-11. The Rebels are the No. 6 seed in the NCAA 64-team bracket announced Tuesday and will face Lehigh University in the first round.
Also coming to Oxford for the four-team regional is Memphis and BYU. The Rebels (15-8) will play Lehigh at 12 p.m. Friday, May 10 followed by Memphis and BYU not before 3 p.m. The winners will meet Saturday at 2 p.m. for the right to advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in Champaign, Ill.
“We’re extremely excited to host again,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “It’s become a tradition here, and it’s a great tradition. It’s a big advantage if you want to move on to the Final 16, and we hope to take advantage of it.”
The Rebels (15-8) have been ranked inside the nation’s top 10 nine straight weeks and won the SEC Western Division Championship for the 10th time.
For seniors Jonas Lutjen and Adrian Forberg Skogeng, it means they get to play at home one last time and both are set to graduate.
“We are really excited to host and play at home in front of a big crowd,” Lutjen said. “We want to finish the season strong. It doesn’t matter if you are seeded six, seven or eight, we have to win two matches to get to the Sweet Sixteen. That’s all that matters. We didn’t play our best at the SEC Tournament, and so hopefully we can bounce back and play our best at the NCAA Tournament.”
The SEC was as good as it’s ever been this year, and Tuesday, 12 teams earned NCAA bids with eight teams hosting first and second rounds. The Rebels hosted the SEC Tournament a couple weeks ago, and are looking forward to erasing the disappointment of losing their first match in front of the home crowd.
“It’s always exciting for us, you play the whole year to get to this moment,” said two-time All-SEC honoree Nik Scholtz who has battled injury the last half of the season. “It’s crunch time. The team is healthy and we’ll be ready. “We were ok health-wise for the SEC Tournament we just weren’t able to practice and prepare like we needed to beforehand. We were all obviously disappointed because we felt we had a chance to win it and then to lose the first match we played. We want to show people that we are better than that. Any time you host an event it gives you a tremendous boost, and we have to make the most of it.”
Lehigh (18-5) earned their first ever NCAA bid. The Mountain Hawks went 4-2 in Patriot League regular season play to earn the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, where they won the first league title in school history with wins over Holy Cross, Bucknell and Navy. They are led by senior co-captain Andrew Krentz.
Ole Miss Men’s Tennis at NCAA Championships Oxford, Miss. • May 10-11 First Round • Friday, May 10 Match 1 – Lehigh (18-5) vs. (6) Ole Miss (15-8), 12 p.m. Match 2 – BYU (21-6) vs. Memphis (14-7), Not before 3 p.m. CT Second Round • Saturday, May 11 Match 3 – Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 2, 2 p.m. CT
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