OXFORD, Miss. – The No. 24 ranked Ole Miss women’s tennis team downed SMU 6-1 in their home opener here Saturday at the Gillom Sports Center. With the win, the Rebels improved to 5-4 on the season.
“We’re excited about getting our first home win. We had a lot of positives. I was really happy with the doubles. It was a good start to the match,” head coach Mark Beyers said. “Their top three players are obviously good players. It’s different when you only have three players out there. If we’re playing on six courts, we probably win four, five and six a little quicker and it would be tough for them (SMU) to be as pumped up as they were.”
As Beyers noted, he was pleased with the doubles, and with good reason. The Rebels dominated all three spots dropping only five games total to improve to 5-1 on the year when they win the point.
SMU made some noise at the top three spots in singles, and the Rebels had to earn the two points they did get at two and three.
First off the court, SMU’s Edyta Cieplucha defeated 20th-ranked Kristi Boxx 6-4, 6-1 at No. 1. Sophomore Caroline Rohde-Moe continued her great play, defeating Mustang senior Heather Steinbauer 6-3, 7-5 at No. 2 to make it 2-1. Rohde-Moe found herself down 5-3 in the second, but won four straight games to move to 7-1 at No. 2.
Freshman Erin Stephens came up with a huge win at No. 3, rallying to defeat Elena Fayner in three sets. After dropping the first set 6-4, Stephens won the second set 6-3. She served for the match at 5-3 in the final set, but Fayner broke and held serve. Stephens won the final two games to put the Rebels up 3-1 in her home debut.
“They did a good job and pushed us, but I am proud of Erin for coming back from a set down and Caroline from 5-3 in the second set to win. Any time you win close matches or close sets it’s awesome,” Beyers said.
The lower half of the lineup was dominate. First off the court was senior Abby Guthrie, who clinched the victory by shutting out SMU’s Perri Anderson 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5 singles. Freshman Julia Jones also won her home debut, downing Kris Roberts 6-1, 6-2 at No. 4, and then sophomore Vivian Vlaar finished it off cruising 6-0, 6-2 against Erika Marschall.
“We’re proud of the girls in the lower half of the lineup. Even though the matches were one-sided, we got to work on a lot of things and they didn’t get complacent. They did a great job of staying focused,” Beyers said. “With Julia and Vivian, we’ve been working hard on their serves, and that showed today. With Abby she got to work on her approach shots and come in a lot. All-in-all it was a very good day, and now we’re looking forward to playing Southern Miss and Tulsa next weekend, hopefully in our new facility.”
Next Friday’s match against Southern Miss is set for 1 p.m. at the newly renovated Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
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