OXFORD, Miss. – The quest for a national championship begins this weekend for the Ole Miss men’s tennis team as they open up NCAA play at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center, hosting the first and second rounds.
The Rebels, seeded No. 6 in the NCAA Championships are hosting the NCAA first and second rounds for the 11th time and second year in a row. They will face Lehigh University in the first round Friday at 3 p.m. BYU and Memphis will meet at Noon in the other first round match. The winners will face off Saturday at 2 p.m. for the right to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Champaign, Ill.
It’s been nearly three weeks since the Rebels last played a match, but it has given the team a chance to get healthy and be at their best for the NCAAs.
“We needed a rest period, because we had some injuries,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. It came at a real good time, but at the same time, it will be a challenge to get back in there not playing a match for three weeks. The guys have been working hard and they’re ready.”
The Rebels have been led all year by All-Americans Nik Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen. Scholtz, ranked No. 14 in the nation, was hampered at the end of the SEC regular season with an arm injury, but he is finally healthy and ready to get back to his early season form. Lutjen is ranked No. 20 and together they form the No. 3 ranked doubles tandem.
“Nik is healthy and he’s ready to go. He’s really looking good,” Chadwick said. Jonas is playing his best tennis of his career and we’re excited about that. The rest of the guys have put exams behind them and are working hard. We’re going to be in good shape.”
“It definitely helped us,” said Scholtz on the three-week layoff between the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Championships. “We had some injuries including myself and Johan (Backstrom). We were able to take a week off and get our minds straight and then come back with our nose to the grind.”
Lehigh (18-5) captured the Patriot League Championship to earn their first ever NCAA Championship appearance. 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.
“We know Memphis well, we played them earlier and it went right down to the wire,” Chadwick said. “They’re actually playing a lot better now, that’s a formidable team. BYU two weeks ago took (No. 11 seed) Pepperdine in the finals of the conference tournament down to a tiebreak in the last match on. With Lehigh, they have a good record. They don’t play the strength of schedule that we do and we hope that our experience in the SEC will be the difference.”
Playing at home in the NCAA Championships has proven to be an advantage. Of the 10 previous occasions the Rebels have hosted the first rounds, they have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen eight times, including last year.
“It’s a big-time advantage,” said Chadwick on hosting. “All you have to do is look at our record at home through the years (143-22 since 2000). It’s a big difference playing at home. You’ll have a couple of upsets, but the home teams do have an advantage.”
Scholtz likes it, but he would prefer if Mother Nature would cooperate and allow the Rebels to play at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. “It’s a huge advantage not only to have the crowd here, but also to play matches on the courts that you practice on every day,” Scholtz said. I really hope we can play outside, because I know people like to come and enjoy tennis in beautiful weather.”
TICKETS/PARKING INFORMATION Tickets for the NCAA first and second rounds will be $7 a day or $10 for a weekend pass for adults and $3 a day or $5 for a weekend for students (college students and younger).
It is graduation weekend, and a full slate of commencement ceremonies will be taking place on campus all throughout the day on Saturday, so fans are asked to be mindful of that when parking. The loop around Tad Smith Coliseum will be one way the entire day to facilitate traffic flow for graduation ceremonies taking place in the coliseum.
Ole Miss meets Mississippi State on the hardwood the for 250th time Wednesday, which makes it the most-played rivalry in the Southeastern Conference. Like the rivalry in football, where the road team last won in 2010, the home team has... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 20-26, 2015Men's Basketball - Senior guard Jarvis Summers scored 4 points in the final 26.6 seconds to lift Ole Miss to a 72-71 victory over Florida Saturday. Summers scored a team-high 16 points, including... read more
Classes started on the Ole Miss campus this past week, as the men's and women's basketball teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. Some of the spring sports have started their 2015 seasons, while others are gearing up for... read more
Former Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt capped an impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, with a game-high five tackles in the game itself Saturday. His former teammate, cornerback Senquez Golson sat out the game with a hamstring... read more
Ole Miss closes out a three-game stretch in which they will have faced three consecutive ranked opponents when they welcome No. 18 Mississippi State on Thursday night. The Rebels are 1-1 through the first two games of the stretch, having... read more
Photo GalleryCody Prewitt and Senquez Golson will represent Ole Miss in the Senior Bowl, which will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. CT from Mobile, Alabama, and will be televised by the NFL Network. The duo have already had a busy... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 13-19, 2015Men's Basketball - Ole Miss thrashed No. 19 Arkansas 96-82 on Saturday. The Rebels picked up their first true road win over a ranked opponent since 2003 and scored the second-most points ever... read more
The Ole Miss men's and women's basketball teams both made some history, while the men's and women's tennis teams started their spring seasons. National Signing Day (Feb. 4) and the start of baseball season (Feb. 13) are less than a... read more
After an up-and-down non-conference slate that included wins over Creighton, Cincinnati and Oregon, all away from home, and losses to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky, both at home, Ole Miss learned a lot about itself in the first week of... read more
Ole Miss football finished the 2014 football season with a 9-4 record and a top-20 final national rankings in both polls. The Rebels come in at No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 19 in the Amway Coach... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 6-12, 2015Women's Basketball - Ole Miss went 2-0 on the week with a road win at Florida and a win at home against Alabama, moving to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in SEC action while... read more
The Ole Miss men's basketball team opened SEC play, while the Ole Miss women's basketball team continued SEC play, as we enter the heart of college basketball season. Over the weekend, the men's and women's teams posted wire-to-wire wins on... read more
Ole Miss looks to reverse history, as the Rebels (9-4) travel to No. 1 Kentucky tonight (6 p.m., SEC Network), the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Ole Miss is 0-15 all-time against the nation's top ranked team, last playing... read more