OXFORD, Miss. -- The No. 24 nationally ranked Ole Miss women's tennis team won the doubles point and four of the six singles matches on their way to a 5-2 win against No. 19 Tulsa here Sunday at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center/Galtney Courts.
The Rebels (7-4) have now won three straight as they get set to open Southeastern Conference play next weekend. It also marked the team's second Top 25 win of the season.
The doubles point is just one point in the match, but it can make all the difference. The Rebels came out firing to start the match. Tulsa made a run, but the held on to win at the top two spots for a 1-0 lead. Gabby Rangel and Erin Stephens won 8-5 at No. 2 to improve to 7-3. The senior duo of Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie raced out to a 5-0 lead before Tulsa carved into it a bit. The Rebels went on to win it 8-5 to clinch the point and improve to 8-1 there.
In singles, the Rebels won four of the first sets. Sophomore Vivian Vlaar downed Tulsa's Maria Sant'Anna 6-1, 6-3 to make it 2-0.
In big matches against Top 25 teams, it usually comes down to a key point or a key set. The Rebels picked up two huge second sets which carried them to victory. One of those came at No. 4 singles, where freshman Julia Jones closed out TU's Isaura Enrique in a second set tiebreaker to increase the lead to 3-0. After winning the first set 6-2, Jones led 5-2, but Enrique came back to force a tiebreaker, which Jones dominated 7-2.
Tulsa got on the board when Samantha Vickers, ranked No. 68 in the nation, defeated sophomore Caroline Rohde-Moe 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2 singles.
Moments later, 20th-ranked Boxx finished off Tulsa's 71st-ranked Anastasia Erofeeva 7-5, 6-4 to give the Rebels the win.
"We started off really well and gained the momentum fast. It was nice to start off 1-0," Boxx said. "In singles, everybody fought hard. None of the matches were easy. I was really frustrated I didn't play my best, but I tried to stay in it and stay positive. That worked in my favor. We're excited to get a win against a team ranked higher than us."
"They're a tough team," said head coach Mark Beyers, speaking of the Golden Hurricane. We started off really well in doubles and played with a lot of energy. They came back and challenged us, but we hung on and won the point. We won some close sets in singles. Kristi's second set was crucial, and obviously the second set with Julia was crucial. All of a sudden the momentum swings our way. In the end, that determined the outcome."
The remaining two matches split, as Tulsa rallied to win court three 6-4 in the third, and Ole Miss came back to take the match on court five 7-6(3) in the third.
The Rebels will now turn their attention to SEC play. They travel to Auburn and No. 20 Alabama next weekend.
Stay up to date on the Rebels through twitter at @OleMissWTennis and on facebook at www.facebook.com/OleMissWTennis.
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