OXFORD, Miss. -- The No. 37 ranked Ole Miss women's tennis team is in Lubbock to open the 2013 NCAA Championships against No. 15 ranked Duke. The Rebels and Blue Devils will face off Saturday at 11 a.m. at the McLeod Tennis Center.
"We are glad that this week is finally here," head coach Mark Beyers said. "It's a tough time when you don't play for two and half to three weeks after SECs. This week has been extra tough obviously with final exams and the girls have had to double up on exams because since we left Thursday morning. They are happy to be finished and ready to go play."
The Rebels finished the regular season 16-13, falling to No. 2 ranked Georgia in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals in their last action. Ole Miss is led by junior All-SEC honoree Caroline Rohde-Moe, ranked No. 45 in the country.
The Blue Devils come into the match 14-9, but fell in the first round of the ACC Tournament to Virginia Tech. Duke is led by Hanna Mar, ranked No. 27 in the nation. The Blue Devils' biggest win of the season came against No. 1 Florida. Beyers says the Rebels are looking forward to a great match against the Blue Devils.
"They were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country, but they've struggled with some injuries as of late," Beyers said. "It's tricky, because they do have injuries, but they have some great players on their roster. They beat Florida 4-0 earlier in the year. Even with the injuries, they beat Florida State a couple weeks ago. It's a great opportunity against a very talented team."
Duke and Ole Miss last played in 2012 at the ITA National Team Indoor in Charlottesville, Va. The match came down to court six, as the Blue Devils prevailed 4-3.
Beyers hopes that his team can get through to its first NCAA Sweet Sixteen since 2010 and thinks the Lubbock bracket is a great opportunity for the team.
"At Georgia Tech a couple years ago, we got through and made it to the Sweet Sixteen," Beyers said. "That's something we strive to do again and with this draw it's a possibility. We have to take it one match a time, but we're looking forward to trying to win two matches and advance to Illinois."
Beyers feels like the overall reputation and strength of the SEC will help the young Rebel team as they prepare to face Duke in the opening round.
"Because the SEC schedule is so strong, it's not like we're going to be intimidated playing Duke or being in the NCAA Tournament," Beyers said. "We've played a tough schedule against some of the best teams and players in the country. Hopefully we'll be able to play some good tennis and get through this weekend."
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