OXFORD, Miss. - With the core of last year's Sweet Sixteen team returning, and the addition of one of the top incoming players in college tennis, the Ole Miss men's tennis team is ready to get going with an exciting schedule for 2012-13.
Highlights include hosting the SEC Championship, 10 home matches, including six league contests, as well as the first and second rounds of the ITA National Team Indoor. Admission to all home matches is free.
"The team and our fans are already getting excited about this year's schedule," head coach Billy Chadwick said. "We have an outstanding group returning from last year, and they have their sights on a championship."
The Rebels return five of the top seven players from last year's team, which earned the program's 16th NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance, and boasted a record four All-Americans in addition to the SEC Freshman of the Year.
Leading the way for the Rebels this year is senior Jonas Lutjen who has had an outstanding summer after an All-American junior year on the courts. Lutjen ended the year ranked No. 44 in the nation in singles and No. 10 in doubles, earning All-America and All-SEC honors.
The SEC's top rookie in 2012, Nik Scholtz, returns for his sophomore year after earning numerous accolades in his first season. The ITA Southern Region Rookie of the Year led the Rebels in the final individual rankings, at No. 14 in singles and No. 10 in doubles with Lutjen. Scholtz finished as the second highest ranked freshman in the nation and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals in singles. Scholtz became the first Rebel to earn the SEC's top rookie honor and was the only freshman in the nation to earn All-America honors in both singles and doubles.
The Rebels will kick off the year with seven tournaments this fall, beginning Sept. 7 at the Southern Intercollegiates in Athens, Ga. Other fall tournaments include the ITA All-American Championships and the ITA Southern Regional Championships.
Kicking off the spring season, the Rebels will head to Tuscaloosa for the SEC Indoor Championships (Jan. 18-21), looking to continue their strong showing at this tournament throughout the years.
For the third time in five years, the Rebels will host the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, which serves as the first and second rounds of the National Team Indoor, Jan. 25-26 at the Gillom Sports Center. Joining the Rebels in Oxford will be Louisville, North Carolina State and Columbia. The winner of both matches will advance to the National Team Indoor Final 16 in Seattle, Wash. Feb. 15-18.
The annual River Hills Mississippi Cup against arch-rival Mississippi State takes place Feb. 7 in Jackson.
The outdoor season kicks off Feb. 26 with 2012 NCAA participant Memphis coming to town. The Rebels have their sights on an SEC Championship, and that quest begins the first weekend in March with road matches at Alabama (March 1) and Auburn (March 3).
After the opening weekend of conference play, the Rebels will play seven of their final 11 regular season matches at home. Highlighting a five-match homestand is Georgia (March 8), Tennessee (March 10) and 2012 SEC Champion Kentucky (March 15). During this homestand a mid-week match against perennial power Baylor is scheduled for March 14. The Rebels round out the homestand with Vanderbilt (March 17).
Next, the Rebels hit the road for LSU, Arkansas (March 22/24) and Mississippi State (March 29). The final regular season home slate includes Florida (April 5) and South Carolina (April 7).
The Rebels will conclude the regular season April 14 in College Station, Texas against the newest member of the league, Texas A&M.
Ole Miss will welcome the nation's top conference to Oxford as the Rebels host the SEC Championship April 18-21. More details will become available as the tournament draws closer.
The NCAA first and second rounds take place May 10-11 at sites to be determined, and the NCAA Final 16 will be played in Champaign, Ill. May 16-21.
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