Rebel tennis competes at ITA All-American Championships

Posted on Oct 4 2017 - 8:00am by Flint Christian

Junior Fabian Fallert prepares to hit the ball during a match against the University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff last season.  (Photo by: Wilson Benton)

The Ole Miss men’s and women’s tennis teams kicked it into high gear this week as players headed to their respective ITA All-American Championships, where they competed against some of the nation’s best players.

On the men’s side, six players were invited to the tournament, which was hosted at the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Senior Zvonimir Babic and freshman Cotter Wilson found themselves in the pre-qualifying round over the weekend. Wilson had an especially impressive showing and won three matches to reach the final before losing to Christian Langmo of Miami. Babic lost an extremely close three-set match in a tiebreaker in the third round after failing to convert on two match points.

Senior Grey Hamilton and junior Fabian Fallert joined junior Filip Kraljevic, who won three matches over the weekend in the pre-qualifying round to advance, in the qualifying rounds of the tournament. All three disappointingly bowed out on Monday after first-round losses, though Hamilton and Kraljevic lost tight three-set matches.

Senior Gustav Hansson, ranked No. 17 nationally, received an automatic bid to the main draw, which begins Thursday.  He aims to advance as far as possible to earn a spot in the 2017 Oracle ITA National Fall Championships held in Palm Desert, California. The tournament runs Nov. 1-5 and features a collection of some of the nation’s best collegiate tennis talent.

The women’s team arrived at Pepperdine University in Pacific Palisades, California, with high hopes for the week. Junior Tea Jandric, sophomore Anna Vrbenska and freshman Sabina Machalova played in the pre-qualifying rounds over the weekend.

Vrbenska lost a coin-flip three-set match in the first round to Erica Oosterhout of Harvard, while Jandric pulled out a three-set win in the first round before taking a close 7-5, 6-4 loss to Sabrina Federici of Texas Tech.

Machalova turned in the most stellar showing of the early rounds. She won three matches in a row to advance to the qualifying rounds, where she joined teammate Natalie Suk, a senior ranked No. 32 in the nation. The two began play Tuesday and hope to make it to the main draw Thursday.

If Suk and Machalova advance to the draw, they will join Arianne Hartono, a senior ranked No. 17 in the nation who earned an automatic berth. They also hope to qualify for the 2017 Oracle ITA National Fall Championships and earn themselves the opportunity to compete for a national championship.

Jandric and Vrbenska also competed in the doubles tournament over the weekend. They lost their first match in the pre-qualifying rounds 8-3 to a Wake Forest team that eventually reached the qualifying rounds.

Players on both teams will continue play over the coming days, and a few may even play their way to a Sunday showing.