Fall success sets high bar for Ole Miss tennis

Posted on Nov 8 2017 - 7:59am by Ethan Wright

Tim Sandkaulen during a match with Auburn on March 23rd, 2017 in Oxford, MS. Photos by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

Both the men’s and women’s Ole Miss tennis teams have concluded their fall seasons with impressive tournament performances that could predict an equally strong spring. While neither team was able to win its respective tournament, the individual play of each provided a very optimistic outlook for the coming season.

The men’s team, represented in the ITA Fall Championships in California by sophomore Tim Sandkaulen, finished its fall schedule with a straight-set loss in the consolation semifinals. Sandkaulen, who ended the season with a team-best 9-3 record, fell to Mississippi State’s Giovanni Oradini in his last match of 2017.

Sandkaulen entered the fall ranked 85th overall in the Oracle ITA Singles Rankings — the second-highest Rebel on the list, following senior Gustav Hansson.

Hansson represented the Rebels at the ITF Futures in Birmingham while Sandkaulen did battle in California. Hansson fought his way to the semifinals before falling to former South Florida star Roberto Cid.

Though their time in the spotlight is gone for now, Sandkaulen, Hansson and the rest of the men’s team will return Jan. 20 to commence the 2018 season.

As the men were duking it out in singles play, the women’s team sent senior Arianne Hartono and sophomore Alexa Bortles to Indian Wells, California, as representatives at the women’s ITA Fall Championships.

The red-hot duo tore through competition in the early rounds and seemed poised for the top spot before falling to Stanford’s Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon in the finals.

Bortles served the first set, with Hartono following, and each was broken by the acclaimed Stanford pair. Ole Miss’ final representatives for the fall tournament ultimately fell 6-4, 6-1 to claim runner-up status.

While the outcome was not quite what the duo may have hoped for, the Rebel pair’s run was still a notable achievement, capping off an 8-4 fall record that has many hotly anticipating the duo’s regular-season debut.

The two, along with the rest of their team and head coach Mark Beyers, will return to the court Jan. 13 for the FGCU Spring Invitational in Fort Myers, Florida. The women’s team will not play its home opener until Feb. 3, when it takes on Memphis.

Though both the men’s and women’s time on the court have concluded for now, their respective returns promise even more eye-catching play. With impressive results in each team’s final tournament, the outlook for Ole Miss tennis is as promising as ever, and the upcoming season could shape the program’s future development.