The Rebel Netters received a strong, collective effort from everyone on the team Friday, as they got in the win column for the first time this season by defeating Southern Miss, 7-0.
The Rebels improved to 1-2 on the season with the win, even without their No. 1 player, Nik Scholtz. The Rebels picked up their first doubles point with wins over Southern Miss by William Kallberg and Vinod Gowda, 6-3, and Zach Wilder and Joe Rogers, 6-3.
Even without Scholtz, the Rebels were ready in singles play. Stefan Lindmark battled back to win the first singles point 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 against Brad Marriott of Southern Miss at No. 2 singles. Johan Backstrom continued his perfect start to the season in singles play with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Vasco Valverde at No. 3 singles. At No. 1 singles, Kallberg then defeated Paulo Alvarado 6-4, 6-4 to clinch the Rebels’ first win of the season.
“We knew that it was going to be tough, and the guys really responded,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “I felt we played well with a lot of energy in doubles and then played really tough at one, two, three to clinch the match.”
Even though the Rebels clinched the win, the rest of the singles matches continued. Gowda got his first singles dual-match victory as he defeated Alex Doleac 6-0, 6-3 at No. 4 singles. Oxford native Wilder picked up a win at No. 6 singles by beating Juan Escobar 6-4, 6-2. At No. 5 singles, Joe Rogers played his first singles match in more than two years and split the first two sets against Chao-Yu Huang 6-4, 1-6. The last set played as a super tiebreaker and Rogers picked up the win 10-6 to complete the sweep.
“The thing that he did a great job on was that he was aggressive,” Chadwick said about Rogers. “He was more aggressive than his opponent. That was the difference, and so it was great to see him come out and get his first dual-match victory.”
The Rebels showed a lot of fight in the ITA Kick-Off two weeks ago, but could not pull out the victory against two quality teams in Michigan and Clemson. The Rebels had a different mindset Friday and were determined to get in the win column.
“It was huge,” Backstrom said. “Great day today for everyone on the team. I feel like this match was very important for us, getting a little bit of confidence again, and show that we improved from two weeks ago.”
The Rebel Netters needed a win like this to build the confidence of the team and prepare them for the tough competition that waits for them.
“It does a lot because we’re entering the match and guys are expecting to win,” Chadwick said. “They know that these matches are going to be really close and to be able to win those close matches, it gives us a lot of momentum. The thing that a coach likes to see is that these are the things that really motivate the guys to work even harder.”
For continuing coverage of Ole Miss men’s tennis, follow @drubino11 and @thedm_sports on Twitter.