With the spring season in full form, Ole Miss men’s and women’s tennis are both off to strong starts. Both teams and individuals on each are eyeing a chance for a spectacular showing at the national level.
The Ole Miss women’s team currently holds a 9-1 record and the No. 7 ranking in the NCAA as it enters conference play. The 9-1 record is the best start in team history, and this week marks the third consecutive week ranked in the top 10 of the Oracle/ITA rankings, after reaching a season-high of No. 3 in the last edition.
The Rebels have cemented their status as one of the top teams in the nation in the past weeks after bursting onto the scene at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Madison, Wisconsin, with an excellent showing against several elite teams. After a 4-2 loss to then-No. 5 North Carolina in the first round, they beat then-No. 13 UCLA in the first round of the consolation draw. The ladies would go on to defeat then-No. 11 Texas in the next round 4-2, capping off the weekend on a high note.
In their last three competitions, the Rebels have not dropped a single match. Sweeps against Baylor, Lipscomb and Stephen F. Austin pushed their win total to nine this past week, with only the one loss on the year.
Senior Arianne Hartono holds the highest singles ranking of the Rebels at No. 16 and has an undefeated record of 7-0. Sophomore Alexa Bortles and Hartono are the No. 10 nationally ranked doubles team, and freshman Sabina Machalova and senior Natalie Suk currently sit at the 45th spot.
The women’s team plays defending national champion Florida at home Thursday night at 5 and hopes to continue its winning streak by defeating the perennial powerhouse for the first time since 2009. In the case of inclement weather, the match will be moved from the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center to the Ole Miss Indoor Tennis Center.
On the men’s side, the team sits in the middle of a group of elite SEC teams looking forward to battling each other in the coming weeks of conference play. The Rebels found themselves at No. 30 in the latest Oracle/ITA Rankings, dropping eight spots from the previous week’s rankings. The Rebels have an 8-2 record on the season, but both of their losses were road games lost 4-1 against higher-ranked Columbia University.
The team’s most impressive win of the season came with an intense home atmosphere in its match against Baylor on Feb. 4. In one of the first matches in a packed, newly constructed Ole Miss Indoor Tennis Center, senior Gustav Hansson sealed the 4-3 victory over the Bears, who were ranked No. 9 in the nation at the time, with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 win over Johannes Schretter.
Fighting to earn All-American status in singles play, many Rebels also hold high individual national rankings. Sophomore Tim Sandkaulen is ranked 15th with a 15-4 overall record, while senior Gustav Hansson is ranked 31st with an 8-4 record. Sandkaulen also holds the No. 15 ranking in doubles along with junior Fabian Fallert. They have racked up a 6-1 record on the doubles court this year, and the doubles team of junior Filip Kraljevic and senior Zvonimir Babic is ranked 24th as of Feb. 20.
The men’s team returns from a three-week break and begins SEC play this Friday when No. 7 Texas A&M comes to Oxford. The match will take place at 6 p.m. at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center but will be moved indoors to the Ole Miss Indoor Tennis Center in the case of inclement weather.