OXFORD, Miss. - The conditions were not ideal for outdoor tennis, but the Ole Miss women's tennis team battled the cold and wind on Wednesday afternoon at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center on their way to a 6-1 win against visiting VCU.
With the win, the Rebels improved to 7-4 overall as they get set to host No. 11 Vanderbilt Friday at 3 p.m., followed by No. 24 Kentucky Sunday at Noon. Fans coming to Friday's match will enjoy a lot warmer temperatures and free pizza between doubles and singles.
Not wanting to be out in the cold longer than necessary, the Rebels didn't waste time getting the first point, winning 8-3 at No. 2 and 8-2 at No. 3 doubles. Newly ranked at No. 55, Zalina Khairudinova and Julia Jones improved to 11-2 overall.
Khairudinova was first off the court in singles, when her opponent, 72nd-ranked Cindy Chala, retired down 6-1, 1-0. It marked the second ranked win for Khairudinova in her last three matches.
Jones followed up with a quick 6-2, 6-1 win over Salome Kvitashvili at No. 3 singles and then Erin Stephens clinched the victory when she finished off VCU's Olga Barsheuskaya 6-2, 6-4 on court five.
"I am proud of the girls for battling not just VCU, but the wind and the temperature as well," head coach Mark Beyers said. "It's never easy, it's a great equalizer. I thought we took care of business in doubles and then won all six first sets against a very talented VCU team. They are not ranked right now, but they've been ranked as high as No. 39, and they've had some tough 4-3 losses against some good teams. To beat them 6-1 on a day like today when you have blustery conditions, is not that easy."
Ole Miss looks to keep the momentum going and win their fourth straight against Vanderbilt, after a huge 4-3 win last year in Nashville. The Commodores have been ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation and come in at 10-4 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. They are led by Georgina Sellyn, who is ranked No. 63 in singles.
The Rebels have also been successful against Kentucky lately, having won five straight against the Wildcats. Kentucky enters the weekend at 13-3 overall and 3-1 in league play. The Wildcats are led by 54th-ranked Nadia Ravita.
"Vanderbilt and Kentucky are two really good teams, obviously," Beyers said. "We know that in the SEC there won't be any easy matches. We've dealt with that the last two weekends. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going and get a couple of wins this weekend."
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