OXFORD, Miss. – The No. 13 seed Ole Miss men’s tennis team (15-8) punched its ticket to the NCAA Final 16 last weekend with wins over Binghamton (4-0) and Michigan (4-2) to earn its 16th Sweet Sixteen appearance.
The Rebels will face No. 4 UCLA (24-3) Friday at 11 a.m. CT at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., with the winner set to face Ohio State or Florida in the quarterfinals Sunday at 11 a.m. CT. UCLA reached the round of 16 for the 14th straight year with a pair of 4-0 wins over Eastern Kentucky and San Diego.
“They’re one of the top programs in the nation year in and year out, and this year is no exception,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “They are the only team that’s beaten No. 1 Southern Cal. They’re a typical UCLA team that’s extremely talented.
“We feel we match up well with them. Last year’s match they eliminated us at their place. The guys feel they can beat this team.”
This will be the third meeting in four years and fourth overall against UCLA in the NCAA Championships. Senior Marcel Thiemann would like nothing better than to erase the memories of two tough losses to the Bruins during his career.
“We have some unpaid dues against them,” said senior Marcel Thiemann, who was the last match on in 2009. “My freshman year we lost against them 4-3, and last year we lost against them 4-3. We’re ready to play again, and we’re ready to play them again.”
REBELS AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS The Rebels own a 46-20 overall record in NCAA competition. They have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen 16 times now, the Elite Eight nine times, the Final Four four times and the Final in 1995. See page 6 for Ole Miss’ complete NCAA results.
SCOUTING UCLA UCLA (24-3) is making its 14th consecutive NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance. The Bruins downed Eastern Kentucky 4-0 in the first round and then defeated San Diego 4-0 in the second round, in a match that was a lot closer than the final score. UCLA’s three losses came against No. 8 Duke in the National Team Indoor and twice to No. 1 ranked Southern Cal. The Bruins are led by sophomore Clay Thompson who owns a 6-4 record at No. 1 singles and is ranked No. 62. Senior Nick Meister, ranked No. 16 in the nation, is undefeated (9-0) at No. 2. The Bruins boast two other players in the singles rankings with Marcos Giron at No. 84 and Adrien Puget at No. 46.
LAST MEETING In their last meeting last year in the second round in Los Angeles, Ole Miss jumped out to a 3-1 lead before seeing the Bruins come back for a 4-3 win. The match came down to No. 5 singles, where Bruin senior Holden Seguso rallied against Ole Miss freshman Johan Backstrom to clinch the victory in a third set tiebreaker, 7-6(4). Backstrom won the first set 6-4, but Seguso came into the match with just four losses on the season. He took the second set 6-3 and gained a 5-3 lead in the third, before Backstrom won two straight games to even it up at 5-5. The Rebels struck first in the match winning the doubles point. UCLA evened the match with a win at No. 6 singles. The Rebels regained the lead (3-1) with straight set wins on courts three and four, and then UCLA got to within one, winning at No. 2 singles. Marcel Thiemann served for the match at No. 1 singles but lost three straight games to fall in three sets.
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