The Ole Miss men’s tennis team, ranked seventh in the country, split its weekend Southeastern Conference matches, losing 4-2 against No. 17 Florida Friday and defeating No. 20 South Carolina 4-2 Sunday.
FRIDAY: NO. 17 FLORIDA 4, NO. 7 OLE MISS 1
With sophomore Nik Scholtz, the nation’s No. 8-ranked player, sidelined with a pulled muscle in his arm, the No. 7-ranked Ole Miss men’s tennis team fell 4-1 to No. 17 Florida Friday night at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
“I felt like that we were playing short-handed without Nik (Scholtz), and with that being said, I felt like the guys played really well,” head coach Billy Chadwick said.
“It really hurt us without Nik being there with doubles, we had to kind of shift things around and didn’t get the matchups that we wanted. And then in singles, I felt like that we fought all the way to the end. If we get a little lucky here in the third set, maybe we’re still playing.”
In doubles action, freshman Stefan Lindmark and junior Johan Backstrom moved up to No. 1 doubles action with the injury to Scholtz, as senior Jonas Lutjen played with fellow senior Adrian Forberg Skogeng at No. 2 doubles.
Florida (11-8, 5-4 SEC) won 8-3 at No. 3 doubles, defeating sophomore William Kallberg and freshman Zach Wilder, then clinched the doubles point with an 8-4 win at No. 1 doubles.
Everyone moved up a spot in singles action for Ole Miss (13-6, 6-4 SEC), as freshman Zach Wilder made his singles debut.
The teams split the first sets, but the Gators took two of the matches where they won the first set in straight sets to extend their lead to 3-0.
Lindmark fell 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 singles, then Wilder fell 6-3, 6-0 at No. 6 singles.
“It was pretty typical of a first match in that he didn’t play nearly as well as he’s been playing in practice, but that’s a given because you have a lot of pressure out there,” Chadwick said of Wilder.
“I thought for his first time out that he did a good job, but he’s going to have to play better if he’s going to win in the SEC, but he knows that.”
Backstrom made it 3-1 with a 7-6(1), 6-1 win at No. 4 singles, as the remaining three matches went into a third set. Lutjen, ranked No. 12 in the nation and playing in his first career match at No. 1 singles, was on serve, up 4-3, in the third set, while Forberg Skogeng was on serve, down 2-3, in the third set.
At No. 2 singles, Kallberg saved three match points, down 5-3 in the third set, but on the fourth match point, Florida junior Florent Diep clinched the match for the Gators with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win.
“He couldn’t seem to get an ad(vantage),” Chadwick said of Kallberg.
“The other kid really picked up his game in the third set. I thought that both of the guys like to dictate with their forehands, and he actually did a little bit better job of hurting us with his forehand in the third set.”
SUNDAY: NO. 7 OLE MISS 4, NO. 20 SOUTH CAROLINA 2
After dropping the doubles point and sophomore Nik Scholtz retiring due to injury, the No. 7-ranked Ole Miss men’s tennis team rallied to win 4-2 against No. 20 South Carolina on Senior Day Sunday.
With the win, the Rebels (14-6, 7-4) clinch at least a share of the SEC Western Division title.
Three singles matches went into third sets, as William Kallberg forced a third set and clinched the match for Ole Miss with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 3 singles.
“We were fighting really hard in those third sets across the board,” head coach Billy Chadwick said.
“It was just a great team effort against a very good South Carolina team.”
After missing Friday’s match against No. 17 Florida with a pulled muscle in his arm, sophomore Nik Scholtz, the nation’s No. 8-ranked player, returned to action but retired after dropping the first set 6-0. Chadwick said the goal is to have Scholtz back for Sunday’s SEC finale at No. 12 Texas A&M.
“He didn’t feel too much pain today, which was good,” Chadwick said.
“As the match went on, he started feeling it a little bit, but he knew before the match started, if it bothered him any at all, I didn’t want him playing.
“He was willing to go out and give it a try. And if things happened to be feeling good and moving in the right direction, he would stick with it. Otherwise, we’re going to rest him.”
Ole Miss won a pair of singles matches in straight sets to even the match with South Carolina (15-9, 5-5 SEC) at 2-2. Freshman Stefan Lindmark won 6-3, 6-1 at No. 4 singles, then senior Jonas Lutjen won 7-6(6), 6-3 at No. 2 singles.
The remaining three matches went into third sets, as Kallberg and senior Adrian Forberg Skogeng battled back after dropping their first sets. Junior Johan Backstrom earned a break up 4-3, then served out the match for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win at No. 5 singles to give Ole Miss a 3-2 lead.
Down a break 2-5 in the third, Kallberg held serve, broke back, then held serve again to even the set at 5-5.
He broke again with four straight points to serve for the match, which he closed out on his third match point for a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 3 singles.
“I was down 5-2 in the third set, and I don’t know what happened,” Kallberg said.
“All of a sudden, I won 16 out of 18 points, and I started playing real good, got a little lucky and played some amazing points.”
The Rebels host Jackson State Tuesday at 2 p.m. before traveling to face Texas A&M Sunday.
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