OXFORD, Miss. – Sixty-four teams begin their quest for a national championship this weekend, and the Ole Miss men’s tennis team starts NCAA Championship play at home in the friendly confines of the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center/Galtney Courts.
The Rebels, seeded No. 13 in the NCAA Championships are hosting the NCAA first and second rounds for the 10th time and first time since 2008. They will face Binghamton in the first round Saturday at Noon. Michigan and Middle Tennessee will meet at 9 a.m. in the other first round match.
“We’re extremely excited to be hosting both the men and the women. We’ve got a great field coming in. We have graduation and baseball, so it’s a great weekend for Oxford,” Chadwick said.
The Rebels will rely heavily on the SEC Freshman of the Year Nik Scholtz as well as the senior leadership of twins Marcel Thiemann and Chris Thiemann. Scholtz is currently ranked No. 14 in the nation in singles and teams with junior Jonas Lutjen for a No. 13 ranking in doubles. Marcel, who is ranked No. 20 in the country, went 10-1 in the SEC at No. 2 singles.
“Nik is obviously playing well as the SEC Freshman of the Year. Marcel had a phenomenal year,” Chadwick said. "To go 10-1 in this league playing at the No. 2 position, that’s a great feat. This is a group, overall, that has gotten better throughout the season, and even since the SEC Tournament last month.”
Binghamton (15-11) is making its fifth consecutive NCAA appearance and eighth in the last 10 years. The Bearcats won the America East to earn the league’s automatic bid. They are led by the reigning America East Player of the Year, Alexandre Haggai.
Michigan (17-7) and Middle Tennessee (19-7) will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday, and the winners of both matches will play Sunday at 1 p.m. for the right to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Athens, Ga. Michigan boasts one of the nation’s top players in seventh-ranked Evan King who was named the Big 10 Player of the Year.
“They (Binghamton) have a good team and seem to be the strongest at the top of their lineup. With any team in postseason play, you have to be ready,” Chadwick said. “Michigan and Middle Tennessee both have fine programs. Michigan is very strong at the top of their lineup with Evan King. They have one of the best programs from the mid-section of the United States.”
Of the nine previous occasions the Rebels have hosted the first rounds, they have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen seven times.
“It’s a big advantage playing at home, and you can see that with our record through the years. You can look around the country and see who advances and it is definitely a huge advantage for the teams that get to host,” Chadwick said. “When we have the crowd support behind us—and this is a great tennis community—it’s a huge difference maker. I want to encourage all the fans to come out and get behind us and help us get to the Sweet Sixteen.”
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).
For complete information on the NCAA first and second rounds, go to www.OleMissSports.com. For those that can’t make it to the matches, there will be live scoring in addition to a live blog.
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