LEXINGTON, Ky. – After coming close in three of their first four SEC matches, the Ole Miss women’s tennis team finally got one to go their way, as sophomore Julia Jones rallied to win a three-setter at No. 2 singles to clinch a 4-3 win for the Rebels at No. 38 Kentucky here Friday at the Boone Tennis Complex.
With the win, the Rebels (3-8, 1-4) earn their first SEC victory of the year. It marked the Rebels’ fourth SEC match to go 4-3 and their fifth overall.
When Kentucky (11-7, 2-3) finished off a three-setter at No. 5 singles to tie it up, Jones was already up comfortably in the third set against Jessica Stiles at No. 2 singles. After dropping a tough tiebreaker 7-6(5) to start the match, Jones won the second set 6-4 and then got up early in the third on her way to winning it 6-1 to clinch.
The Rebels won the doubles and then also picked up wins from Erin Stephens at No. 4 singles and freshman Mai El Kamash at No. 3 singles.
“We played really well in doubles, got off to great starts. We were able to get some early leads and two quick wins,” head coach Mark Beyers said. In singles it was a battle all the way. Julia was able to come back and win 6-4 in the third. Erin was huge to win the second set tiebreak. Mai took care of business at three. We need to do a better job of capitalizing on leads. We’ve struggled with that this year. If we can do that, we have a chance to beat anybody. On the road it’s not an easy place to play, so we are definitely happy to get a 4-3 win.”
As coach Beyers said, the match began with the Rebels getting off to a early lead in doubles. The coaches switched up the teams to try and get something going after losing three straight doubles points. Vief Vlaar and Mai El Kamash downed Khristina Blajkevitch and Jessica Stiles 8-2 on court three and then Caroline Rohde-Moe and Marija Milutinovic dominated Caitlin McGraw and Nadia Ravita 8-1 at No. 1 to clinch the point.
Kentucky tied it up when Stephanie Fox handed Vlaar a 6-3, 6-2 loss at No. 6 singles, but the Rebels regained the lead as El Kamash downed Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff 6-1, 6-4 at No. 3 singles.
In a battle between two nationally ranked players at No. 1 singles, 38th-ranked Ravita came into the match with an impressive 13-2 record. She topped 39th-ranked Rohde-Moe 7-5, 6-1 to even the overall match at 2.
Erin Stephens gave the Rebels a 3-2 lead, winning a huge second-set tiebreak to defeat McGraw 6-4, 7-6(5).
Kentucky’s Kirsten Lewis held off Rebel freshman Milutinovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 to square the match and set up the final outcome on court two. Milutinovic could have given the Rebels the win earlier leading 4-2 and 30-0 in the third, but Lewis rallied.
The Rebels will travel to Nashville Sunday to face No. 13 Vanderbilt at 1 p.m. The Rebels won both meetings last year in Oxford during the regular season and again in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
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